IFAW Applauds Sonar Injunction Against US Navy

Wednesday, February 6, 2008
WASHINGTON, D.C., United States
Leadership for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW - www.ifaw.org) praised the decision today by a U.S. District Court to grant a preliminary injunction against the U.S. Navy that will restrict the use of Low Frequency Active (LFA) sonar during testing and training operations.
The decision, issued by Judge Elizabeth Laporte of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, orders all parties to negotiate the specific terms of the injunction, which will offer some relief to marine mammals from potentially lethal underwater sound blasts by prohibiting LFA sonar use in areas of the ocean identified as critical marine mammal habitat.
 
“This is a lifeline for whales and all marine mammals” said IFAW Washington, D.C., Office Director Jeffrey Flocken. “As the second decision this week in favor of protecting marine species from military sonar activity, there is much cause to celebrate.”
 
This decision marks the second defeat this week for the US Navy. On Monday, February 4, U.S. District Court Judge Florence-Marie Cooper rejected a waiver by the Bush Administration that attempted  to override protections for marine mammals from high-intensity Mid Frequency Active (MFA) sonar naval training, which she had found violated the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
 
Today’s injunction stems from a 2007 lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), IFAW, and four other groups challenging the Navy’s environmental impact statement for its LFA sonar deployment and the decision by the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) to grant the Navy a five-year permit to “take” marine mammals in connection with LFA sonar operations.
 
Low Frequency Active Sonar is different from Mid-Frequency Active Sonar in that LFA signals travel further under water, ensonifying vast areas of the ocean with levels of sound known to disturb and injure whales.  Both systems pose serious threats to marine mammals by producing dangerous levels of underwater noise, killing or seriously injuring marine wildlife. Among the most dramatic impacts of high-intensity sonar are mass strandings of whales. As sound is crucial to whales, dolphins, porpoises, and other marine wildlife for navigation, communication, mating, and finding food, any disturbance that undermines their ability to transmit or recognize sounds may jeopardize their capacity to function and, over the long term, to reproduce and survive.

Post a comment

Press Contact

Brandon Frazier (IFAW - US)
Contact mobile:
202.536.1907
Contact email: