今年的開會內容雖然仍以大型鯨類為討論重點，但也包括小型鯨類、鯨類誤捕、環境關懷、賞鯨衝擊、族群認定、遺傳…等議題以小組討論方式召開。其中相當引人矚目的環境關懷小組，今年特別針對海洋中的噪音問題進行六天的議程，因為聲音衝擊的影響模式並非一加一等於二的模式，有時是一種加乘效果，科學實驗的結果並不能代表真實情況，因此評估者要小心求證，以免造成無法彌補的後果。而目前造成海洋噪音的六大罪魁禍首為：第一名是水下核爆(30 kilo-ton)、第二名是船舶減震測試(ship shock trial)(1000lb TNT)、第三名是軍用聲納(SURTASS/低頻主動聲納LFA)、第四名為高壓空氣槍陣(Airgun Array)(2000 psi 和 8000 in3), 第五名軍用聲納(中頻主動聲納53C)、第六名是超級油輪(Super Tanker)，這些排名以一年內所輸入海中的能量為計算標準，且有逐年加重的趨勢。
在會議中，許多科學家紛紛提出海洋噪音與鯨類生態問題，福爾摩莎鯨保育研究小組的王愈超博士受邀參與發表，對今年二月24日至三月10日間一連串在台灣及中國海域所發生的擱淺事件(台東9~10頭短肢領航鯨、屏東一頭銀杏齒喙鯨、屏東一頭條紋海豚、浙江南麂列島七頭短肢領航鯨)與美國海軍二月23日在菲律賓海域的軍事演習之間是否有關聯提出質疑，並將二月29日於屏東林邊擱淺的一頭銀杏齒喙鯨之不尋常死亡原因做出報告，這頭全世界不到25個標本紀錄的銀杏齒喙鯨，其頭部經過檢驗發現，在外表無外傷情況下，所有聽覺器官以及與潛水有關的部位皆出現異常淤血與傷害，現場經由各國檢驗專家共同判斷，除了確定是人為事件以外，也相當確定是由威力強大的爆炸性聲響所造成。王博士今年九月底也將受邀參加由美國海洋哺乳動物委員會(US Marine Mammal Commission)在英國倫敦召開有關海哺類聲音管理政策的國際會議(Policy on Sound in Marine Mammal: International Workshop)，和各國學者專家共同探討這個問題。
自從2000年巴哈馬海域出現大群喙鯨異常擱淺事件，科學家們抽絲剝繭地找出死亡原因，竟是因為美國海軍在該海域使用中頻主動聲納測試的結果，接後幾年持續揭發希臘(1996)、葡屬馬德拉群島(2000)、西班牙屬加那利群島(1985, 1986, 1989, 2002, 2004)、美屬維爾京群島 (1998, 1999)、美國西北海岸(2003)、夏威夷(2004)等鯨豚擱淺事件都與美國海軍測試聲納活動有關，近而喚起國際間對海洋噪音尤其是軍事活動如何衝擊鯨豚生態的議題，保持高度的警戒，現在更延燒到亞洲地區，地處軍事重要區域的西北太平洋諸國列島也有美國海軍基地駐守，其進行的軍事武器測試或訓練皆非公開資訊，無人知道鯨類擱淺是否與之有關。目前有人針對日本過去之喙鯨擱淺事件與美軍活動進行調查，想加以了解事件的始末，而台灣過去對鯨類擱淺的認識也都僅止於自然淘汰或漁業等造成，並未將軍事活動考慮進去，因而忽略許多檢驗重點。
台灣海域是軍事活動頻繁地區，過去經常有例行性砲彈試射與演習活動，這些都未考慮到對鯨豚生態的影響，而未來即將購入的紀德級驅逐艦(Kidd Class Destroyer)與神盾級驅逐艦(Arleigh-Burke Class destroyer)就可以配有傷害鯨類的AN/SQS53C中頻主動聲納系統，最近國防部更考慮購入兩座陸置低頻主動聲納系統(LFA)，這項消息更加重台灣鯨豚生態的隱憂，鯨與海豚從1997年來即成為台灣重要的觀光資源，在政府正積極投入永續利用理念的同時，著實應該將此問題審慎考慮進去。
軍購新聞：Taipei Times 2004/2/16 p.2
軍購新聞：Taipei Times 2004/6/20 p.3
軍購新聞：Taipei Times 2004/2/16 p.2
Navy set to purchase new ASW sonar system: source
By Brian Hsu
Monday, Feb 16, 2004,Page 2
“The system is capable of detecting all submarines operating in the Taiwan Strait.”
An anonymous defense official
The navy is to buy two sets of US-made low-frequency active sonar (LFAS) systems to detect submarines operating in the Taiwan Strait, and plans to deploy them within two years, defense sources said yesterday.
The LFAS, the most advanced system of its kind, is expected to greatly enhance the navy’s anti-submarine capabilities.
The two LFAS systems are to be land-based, with one to be placed in the northern part of the country and the other in the south.
The deal will cost a great deal of money, but the exact figure was not available.
The navy has classified the purchase top secret.
LFAS is a new submarine detection system that the US Navy has been developing since the 1980s. Hundreds of millions of US dollars were said to have been spent on development of the system, according to information available from Web sites linked to the LFAS project.
It is quite unusual for the US government to sell Taiwan newly-developed military hardware. For decades, the military has had to accept second-hand or outdated weapons systems from the US.
But the navy should not celebrate too soon, since the US government has yet to resolve complaints from enivronmental groups about the threat that LFAS may pose to marine mammals, especially whales.
In 2000, 10 American organizations filed suit in a Honolulu federal court to halt the US Navy’s preparations to deploy the LFAS.
The suit alleged that the US Navy violated environmental laws by spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the sonar system before completing the analysis of the system’s environmental effects.
The groups were concerned that the LFAS could cause severe injuries or death to whales or other sea creatures because of the high-powered frequencies it transmits as it penetrates the sea.
A defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the navy needs to get a powerful anti-submarine warfare (ASW) sensor like the LFAS to bolster its ability to protect Taiwan, but that it also has the responsibility of informing the public of its potential harm to the environment.
“The system is capable of detecting all submarines operating in the Taiwan Strait. It is most effective against objects in littoral waters. With it, the navy could save a lot of man-hours spent on ASW, by reducing submarine, surface ship, or helicopter patrols,” the official said.
Despite the effectiveness of the system, the defense official said the navy has the moral obligation to tell the public what kind of harm the system could do to the environment or humans as well as where it would be deployed.
According to the navy’s plan, the two LFAS systems are to be placed at elevated sites near the sea. Besides marine mammals, residents living near these LFAS stations could be affected.
Low frequencies capable of penetrating to the ocean floor must be transmitted at high power.
Eleven Jan (詹皓), a former editor with Defense Technology Monthly magazine and now a freelance military analyst, said the power of the low-frequency transmissions could have an adverse effect on human beings.
軍購新聞：Taipei Times 2004/6/20 p.3
US commander stays up worrying about the Strait
ANXIETY: Admiral Thomas Fargo told a Taiwanese delegation visiting Hawaii that a miscalculation by either Beijing or Taipei could cause war to break out
CNA , HAWAII
Sunday, Jun 20, 2004,Page 3
US Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Thomas Fargo said on Friday that he is concerned about the possibility of war breaking out in the Taiwan Strait due to a miscalculation by the governments on either side, according to People First Party (PFP) Legislator Hsu Yuan-kuo (吳淵國).
Fargo made the remark at a meeting with a delegation headed by Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) at the US Pacific Command headquarters in Hawaii.
It was the first time the US army allowed Taiwanese without a military background to visit the US Pacific Command headquarters and military bases in Hawaii.
Hsu quoted Fargo as having told the delegation that three issues in the Pacific region have been keeping him awake at night — the slow progress in removing nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula; the possibility of war in the Taiwan Strait, which is complicated by China’s accelerated military modernization as a result of its rapid economic growth; and terrorist activities in Southeast Asia.
Hsu said the US Pacific Command sent several senior officers, including a lieutenant general, a major general and three brigadier generals, to brief them on the command’s mission and the general regional security situation, as well as the functions of weapons that Taiwan is planning to buy from the US.
In the afternoon, the legislative delegation visited Pearl Harbor. Hsu said he and his colleagues boarded an Arleigh-Burke-class guided missile destroyer equipped with the advanced AEGIS radar system.
Vice Minister of National Defense Lei Kuang-shu (雷光墅), who is accompanying the lawmakers on their tour of the US, explained the differences between the Arleigh-Burke-class destroyer and the Kidd-class destroyer.
The US has agreed to sell four Kidd-class destroyers to Taiwan, and the delivery is scheduled to begin next year.
Hsu quoted US officers as having hinted that if Taiwan intends to buy the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, the delivery could not begin until after 2010 or 2011.
The 13-member delegation arrived in Hawaii on Thursday on the first leg of a US tour aimed at discussing Taiwan’s new arms procurement projects.
The delegation, composed of 13 lawmakers from across the political spectrum, visited a US Marine base at Kaneohe to take a closer look at the P-3C anti-submarine aircraft, one of the items Taiwan plans to purchase.
The Executive Yuan earlier this month approved a special military budget allocation of NT$610.8 billion (US$18.23 billion) for the purchase of eight submarines, a modified version of the Patriot PAC-III anti-missile system and a squadron of 12 P-3C anti-submarine aircraft over a 15-year period starting in 2005. The US offered to sell the military hardware to Taiwan in 2001 as part of its most comprehensive arms package to the nation since 1992. The special budget bill is now pending review and approval by the opposition-controlled Legislative Yuan.
After the Hawaii visit, the legislative delegation will travel to Washington, via San Francisco. In the company of Chen Chien-jen (程建人), outgoing head of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington, the delegation will visit US administrative departments tomorrow and exchange views with senior officials on Taiwan’s defense needs.
On Tuesday, the delegation will be briefed on special functions of the weaponry systems that the US intends to sell to Taiwan. The mission will also meet with US congressmen before leaving for Texas Thursday to visit a US Patriot PAC-III missile base.