Navy sonar that harms whales and dolphins was improperly approved, US court finds

From The Verge:

The US Navy is now using a particular type of sonar in more than half of the world’s oceans under an illegal permit. That sonar harms marine mammals like whales, dolphins, seals, and walruses. On Friday, the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals in California found that a 2012 regulation that allowed the Navy to use a low-frequency active sonar for training and testing violates the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The sonar harms whales, dolphins, seals, and walruses

The court found that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), which gave the authorization, isn’t doing enough to avoid harming or killing marine mammals under the law. The Marine Mammal Protection Act calls for the “least practicable adverse impact” on marine mammals and their habitats. The court also found that the federal agency failed to protect areas of the world that its own government experts had flagged as “biologically important” to protect marine life. Such areas include the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador, the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument off of Hawaii, and Challenger Bank off of Bermuda.

The Navy had been authorized to use the high-intensity long-range sonar — called low-frequency active sonar, or LFA — for five years across more than 70 percent of the world’s oceans, in areas of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea. The NMFS has to set certain limits to activities, like military training, that could harm marine mammals. The goal is to reduce the impact on marine life to its lowest possible level.

In 2005, 34 whales died because of Navy sonar training

The Navy uses LFA to detect quiet foreign submarines. The sonar involves the use of 18 speakers lowered hundreds of feet below the surface. It produces low-frequency sound pulses of about 215 decibels (dB), in sequences …

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