Policy News

U.S. Navy Agrees to Reduce Sonar Testing in Biologically Significant Areas

Published: Friday, 02 October 2015 15:50
Written by STEPS
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A federal court ruling earlier this year stated that certain Navy exercises are illegally harming populations of whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals. As a result, the U.S. Navy has reached a settlement with two environmentalist groups in which it has agreed to limit sonar testing that unintentionally harm these populations. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the federal agency responsible for protecting marine life, has been in dispute about sonar testing with the Navy for quite some time. The Navy will no longer train in specified areas near Hawaii and southern California. Ships deploy sonar blasts to find submarines; the sound waves released by those blasts can disrupt communication and feeding as well as cause internal and external bleeding in marine mammals. Many whales were found beached and dying in the Bahamas, and related investigations pointed undisputedly to sonar. The Navy agrees that some of their training practices are unintentionally harmful, and has its own Marine Species Modeling Team to calculate the likely injury to marine mammals resulting from training exercises. The current agreement lasts until 2018, after which it will have to be renewed. http://news.sciencemag.org/scientific-commu-nity/2015/09/u-s-navy-limit-sonar-testing-protect-whales