Fantastic news! A federal court in California has just imposed
the strongest-ever protections for whales against an onslaught
of military sonar.
The new controls are the result of an NRDC lawsuit that demanded
the Navy rein in its deadly sonar before beginning two years of
maneuvers near the Channel Islands -- one of the world's most
sensitive environments and home to five endangered species of
The Navy itself estimates that the booming sonar would harass or
harm marine mammals some 170,000 times -- and cause permanent
injury in more than 400 cases.
U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper said the Navy's
existing plan for protecting marine mammals was "grossly
inadequate." And she has ordered the Navy to put a series of
precautionary measures in place -- many of them recommended by
NRDC -- that will go a long way toward protecting whales from
needless injury and death.
For starters, the Navy will not be permitted to use its
dangerous mid-frequency sonar within 12 miles of the California
coast, a zone that is heavily used by migrating whales and
dolphins. Sonar will also be banned in the Catalina Basin, an
underwater canyon with a high density of whales.
The Navy will also have to monitor for marine mammals -- from
the ship and from the air -- both before and during its sonar
exercises. If any marine mammals are spotted within 2200 yards
of the ship, the Navy will have to shut down its sonar.
These safeguards represent a giant leap forward in our
decade-long campaign to make sure that whales don't have to die
for the sake of military practice.
I want to thank you for advancing our campaign for whales
through your tenacious online activism. Needless to say, this
fight is far from over and many more court battles lay ahead.
But case by case, we are accomplishing what many thought
impossible: forcing the Navy to obey our environmental laws and
stop its needless killing of whales -- and all without
compromising military readiness.
Thank you for standing with NRDC in defense of the world's
P.S. In the wake of this landmark victory, please help us build
nationwide opposition to a separate Navy plan that would put a
sonar range right next to a key migratory route for endangered
whales by clicking here: