CALIFORNIA (RUSHPRNEWS) January 8, 2008- 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 whales.
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.
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 marine mammals.
P.S. On a related front, we still need your help to stop the Navy's plan to put a sonar training range next to a key migratory route of the endangered North Atlantic right whale.
Please read the latest call to action from NRDC Trustee James Taylor and send your own electronic message to the Navy from the NRDC Action Fund website:
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