Trashy Sanctuary

by Martha Sadler

The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is falling prey to noise pollution, according to the Conservation Working Group (CWG), which monitors the wildlife park. In its comments to the sanctuary’s advisory council, the CWG also urged the sanctuary to beef up enforcement against air and water polluters, claiming the $2.5 million enforcement budget is not equal to the task. Most of the noise, chemicals, smog, and sewage comes from freighters along the shipping lanes between the Channel Islands and the mainland — traffic that increases tenfold about every 10 years, according to the Environmental Defense Center’s Shiva Polefka, who sits on the CWG.

Currently, there exist no regulations against noise pollution, nor is there any easy antidote to the far-reaching underwater roar of freighter engines. The CWG called for more research into its impacts — which scientists suspect include the increasing numbers of beached cetaceans — followed by research into ways to minimize the noise. Additionally, the CWG recommended prohibiting the use of motorized personal watercraft, low-flying aircraft, and vessels larger than 150 tons within one nautical mile of the islands.

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