Alaskans protest Navy’s Northern Edge drill

A major biennial exercise hosted by the Alaskan Command and joined by the US Navy is causing concern within the Alaskan community.

The exercise in question is Northern Edge 2017 and is expected to be held in the Gulf of Alaska in May 2017.

Senator Lisa Murkowski addressed the issue in a letter sent to U.S. Secretary of Navy Ray Mabus in September this year.

Murkowski wrote that hundreds of Alaskans contacted her expressing their concern about the impacts the drills could have on the ecosystems. Alaskans fear that sonars used by the Navy during exercises could have an adverse impact on the region’s commercially viable species of fish.

The U.S. Navy promised to provide answers following the 2015-edition of the exercise but that did not happen, according to Murkowski.

In a response to Murkowski, dated October 4, 2016, the U.S. Navy admitted it could have done a much better job in reaching out to Alaskans during and around Northern Edge 2015.

The Navy said it now plans to improve its public outreach activities which will include attending local and regional events with the aim of “initiating a two was dialogue” with the citizens.

“It is important that we clearly convey the scope of NE17 activities and, together with the regulatory community and scientific experts, address concerns and, if needed, dispel misinformation related to the exercise and environmental impacts,” the Navy said in the letter.