The United States Navy has agreed to limit the use of sonar, and other harmful training activities in critical habitats for whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals.
The agreement came about after two lawsuits against the Navy by environmental groups Earthjustice, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The U.S. Navy has estimated that it inadvertently killed 155 whales, and dolphins off the coasts of Hawaii, and Southern California over five years — and its training exercises has also injured approximately 2000 marine animals over that same period.
Watch this video about saving whales from deadly sonar technology:
Natural Resources Defence Council said a statement that: “The settlement aims to manage the setting, and timing of Navy activities, taking into account areas of vital importance to marine mammals, such as reproductive areas, feeding areas, migratory corridors, and areas in which small, resident populations are concentrated.”
Earthjustice said with the settlement it has secure “long-sought protections for whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals by limiting navy activities in vital habitats.”
The Navy for the first time is agreeing to not use powerful explosives or dangerous mid-frequency sonar training, and testing in important habitat areas.
Earthjustice attorney David Henkin reveals that, at great distances, sonar can disrupt feeding, and communication of marine mammals. At closer distances, it can lead to deafness or even death, wrote The Huffington Post.
See how whales receive Federal protection from the U.S. Navy:
“If a whale or dolphin can’t hear, it can’t survive,” Henkin said.
“By agreeing to this settlement, the Navy acknowledges that it doesn’t need to train in every square inch of the ocean, and that it can take reasonable steps to reduce the deadly toll of its activities.”
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) believes it is possible to protect the fleet while, at the same time, safeguarding whales.
“This settlement shows the way to do both, ensuring the security of U.S. Navy operations while reducing the mortal hazard to some of the most majestic creatures on Earth,” said Rhea Suh, president of the NRDC, whose lawyers challenged the Navy’s activities in Southern California and Hawai‘i on behalf of the council, Cetacean Society International, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Pacific Environment and Resources Center, and Michael Stocker.
“Our Navy will be the better for this, and so will the oceans our sailors defend.”
Susan Millward, executive director at the Animal Welfare Institute said: “This agreement will enhance the welfare of dozens of species that call the Pacific Ocean home by extending vital protections to places they need to rest, feed, reproduce, and care for their young.”
This is not only widely considered to be a win for the environmental groups, rather it is a huge win for the marine mammals as well.