It has been years since environmental groups have started the debate, and the U.S. Navy finally agrees to limit training for the sake of marine life that might be harmed by their constant use of sonars.
- Court sides with the NRDC to protect marine life against sonar use
- The U.S. Navy will now limit their training around sensitive habitats
- Areas off coast of Southern California and Hawaii are banned from the use of sonars
- The Navy acknowledges for the first time that their exercises could be deadly to marine life
U.S. District Court Judge Susan Oki Mollway from Honolulu, Hawaii, has decided to stand against the U.S. Navy in their argument that the limitation of both the experimental explosive and long use of high-intensity, mid-frequency sonars will hinder upon vital aspects of their training.
The judge has ruled in protecting marine life, and ensued a restriction of the army’s activity.
Back in April, the U.S. Navy had stated that it couldn’t conduct proper exercises, experiments and simulations while avoiding sensitive habitats of whales, dolphins, orcas, sea lions or sea turtles. Their plan implied dropping around 250,000 explosives in the Pacific Ocean and using sonar for around 500,000 hours during their 5 year plan.
However, environmental groups such as Earthjustice and Greenpeace, backed by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have taken a step forward in putting a halt to their intentions by bringing forth the urgent issue that all their activities would gravely damage marine life in areas around Southern California and Hawaii.
According to the conservationist groups, the Navy’s plan would have seen to the death of around 2,000 animals, or at least their grave injury. Marine biologists have been warning for years of the effects of sonars near the habitats of marine mammals, such as whales or dolphins, by stating that the mid-frequency can drastically damage their hearing.
That is incredibly dangerous for animals who use echolocation for communication, detecting food or finding mates. Harming what is their most used means of surviving would inevitably lead to their death, and that has led the two environmental groups to call for a ban and a limitation upon the Navy’s activities.
They have now agreed upon restricting their training, and, for once, admitting that they do not require every inch of the ocean to conduct their exercises.
According to lead counsel of Earthjustice, Dave Henkin, the Navy now acknowledges that “it can take reasonable steps to reduce the deadly toll of its activities”, and from now on, proceed with “extreme caution” within areas that are often feeding or breeding grounds for marine life.
They are required to travel at careful speeds to avoid harmful impact and limit their sonar use in the designated areas off the coast of Hawaii.
However, the NRDC does not plan on stopping there, and instead will tackle other training areas of the Navy in their intention on banning sonar use in the Pacific Northwest, Gulf of Alaska, and northern Florida.
Image source: strangesounds.org