Letters to the Editor

Readers write about how the US Navy impacts marine mammals, why some Somalis have turned to piracy, Obama's role in Europe, and the Taliban in Pakistan.

The US Navy works to share the sea with marine mammals

Regarding the April 2 Opinion piece, "Smarten up naval sonar to save the whales": This commentary, by Jean-Michel Cousteau and Joel R. Reynolds, does not accurately portray the United States Navy's continuing commitment to the protection of marine species while training with active sonar, and misleadingly omits important facts that provide context.

The commentary's mention of NOAA Fisheries' authorization of marine mammal "takes" during Navy sonar training is particularly misleading. More than 99 percent of the takes authorized for sonar training in the Atlantic Fleet Active Sonar Training study area involve only "behavioral" effects, rather than any temporary or permanent physical effect on marine species.

Safeguarding marine mammals during training and operations is an integral part of Navy culture and operations. Sailors serve to defend not only our freedom, but also our values, which includes a healthy and robust natural environment. We employ dozens of protective measures when using active sonar, measures developed using the best available science and in cooperation with NOAA Fisheries, the federal agency responsible for marine mammal protection.

The Navy is a world leader in advancing scientific understanding of marine mammals and the effects of ocean sound. Over the past five years, the Navy has invested more than $100 million to support ongoing research at world-class scientific institutions such as the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of St. Andrews (Scotland), and others. Our increasing knowledge about marine mammals and sound will help ensure the continuing effectiveness of the protective measures employed.

The US Navy will continue to share the sea in a responsible manner with the increasing populations of northern right whales and other marine mammals. To learn more about the Navy's efforts to protect marine mammals, go to www.navy.mil/oceans.

John P. Quinn

Deputy director

Chief of Naval Operations Environmental Readiness Division

Arlington, Va.

Somali piracy is the result of desperation

In regard to the April 8 article, "Who will stop the pirates?": The Somali pirates are former fishermen, who cannot make a decent living fishing anymore for good reason: Foreign fishing fleets are pillaging Somali fish stocks within their marine economic zone.

Foreigners are also dumping toxic waste, including nuclear waste, in Somali waters, adversely affecting fish stocks and people's health.

Some countries are taking advantage of Somalia's internal troubles to steal their fish and pollute their marine environment. Correct those problems and maybe they'll go back to fishing.

John Jemmett

Vancouver, British Columbia

The US should not tell Europe what to do

Regarding the April 6 editorial, "Obama woos Turkey but will it woo back?": The editorial board writes, "Obama, too, can speak with special authority in encouraging the traditionally Christian European Union to move ahead with membership for largely Muslim Turkey." Frankly and respectfully: The authority of the president of the United States does not authorize him to meddle in European affairs.

Rolf Siegen

El Cajon, Calif.

Muslim extremists do not follow the teachings of the Prophet

Regarding the April 5 article, "Outrage over Taliban flogging of Pakistani girl could threaten peace deal": It is unacceptable that atrocities continue to be committed by the Taliban in Pakistan. Both President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani have to take strong actions against the perpetrators.

The Prophet Muhammad was appointed by God to raise the status of mankind, but extremists like the Taliban refuse to follow in his footsteps.

Shahina Bashir

Germantown, Md.

The Monitor welcomes your letters. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must include your full name; your city, state, and country; and your telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear on our website, www.CSMonitor.com. E-mail letters to oped@csps.com. Or mail letters to Readers Write, 210 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115.

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