Sometimes lasting change takes a lot longer than it should. Consider, for example, the U.S. Navy’s testing and training with heavy explosives and high-intensity sonar in species-rich coastal waters around the world.
Since 1994, the Natural Resources Defense Council (“NRDC”) has prosecuted a series of federal lawsuits to persuade the Navy to adopt – and its federal regulator the National Marine Fisheries Service to require — common sense safeguards for the protection of whales and other marine life from unnecessary and avoidable harm. In none of these cases has a choice been required between training or not, between military readiness or not; in every case the choice presented has been training recklessly – in violation of federal law — or training in an environmentally responsible way.
With a groundbreaking settlement of two lawsuits this week, there is renewed hope that the Navy’s commitment to adopt significant new safeguards on two of its most important training ranges – in waters off southern California and Hawaii – could signal a fundamental shift in its approach toward wildlife conservation in the oceans in which it operates. For the first time, among other measures, the Navy has agreed to forego entirely or limit significantly its planned explosives testing and mid-range sonar training in designated areas of special importance to the survival of majestic blue whales, deep-diving beaked whales, critically endangered false killer whales, and other marine mammals needlessly put at risk by Navy training.
This agreement reflects real progress, with a solid commitment by the Navy to the most meaningful protective measures that NRDC and others, supported by the marine science community, have long sought. It is an important breakthrough in the Navy’s relationship to the oceans.
Why now? And what does this portend for the Navy’s willingness to adopt similar safeguards in its training elsewhere, in other ranges not covered by the settlement? According to a Navy spokesperson for the Pacific Fleet earlier this week, the Navy agreed to the settlement because it faced “a real possibility that the court would stop critically important testing and training,” needed to “prepare for missions in support of our national security.”
And, indeed, the Navy had reason to worry:
In a decision issued last spring in the cases settled this week, U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway rejected in no uncertain terms, under a number of environmental laws, the Navy’s position. She cited, for example, the Navy’s “total failure to clearly consider important information” and “flaws so fundamental that the [environmental planning] document needs to be totally rewritten.” Judge Mollway concluded that “the Navy’s categorical and sweeping statements, which allow for no compromise at all as to space, time, species, or condition, do not constitute the ‘hard look’ required” by federal law.
The Latest on: Sonar Safeguards
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The Latest on: Sonar Safeguards
- Intruder Sonar to Protect Eastern European Waterside Energy Facilityon July 3, 2019 at 1:06 am
Sonardyne's Sentinel Intruder Detection Sonar (IDS) will be deployed to detect unauthorised ... NiDAR-Sentinel solution will deliver the surveillance capability needed to safeguard this important ... […]
- Greece inks undersea gas deals despite environmental warningon June 27, 2019 at 8:41 am
Left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras hailed Thursday’s signing as a boon to the economy and promised “the strictest” environmental safeguards ... off the seabed. Sonar used by warships ... […]
- This Photo Is Dangerous: It Could Be the Future of Navy Submarineson June 24, 2019 at 1:42 am
The concept, when it comes to application, could involve newer, upgraded sonar, networking systems ... integrate large high-tech sensors, further safeguard manned combat crews and possibly ... […]
- Radome Market to Experience Robust Growth Owing to High Usage in Sonar System, Aeroplanes and Naval Applications Till 2021 | Million Insightson July 19, 2018 at 2:39 am
And as far as the spinning radar dish antenna is concerned, the radome also safeguards the antenna from debris and ... segmented on the basis of technology as Radar, Communication and Sonar. Radome ... […]
- Radome Market to Experience Robust Growth Owing to High Usage in Sonar System, Aeroplanes and Naval Applications Till 2021 | Million Insightson July 19, 2018 at 2:31 am
It has been observed that the Radome Market is gradually gaining huge growth due to the augmented usage of radome and antennas in sonar system ... the radome also safeguards the antenna from debris ... […]
- China assigns 'sonar police' to prevent blaring of car horns near college entrance exam siteson June 7, 2018 at 4:13 pm
As some 10 million Chinese students began to take the gaokao, China's university entrance exam, Chinese authorities spared no effort to safeguard the test, including assigning "sonar police" to ... […]
- You don’t need a bigger boat: AI buoys safeguard swimmers and sharkson April 5, 2018 at 11:52 am
The system, called Clever Buoy, combines sonar to detect a large object in the water, artificial intelligence to determine that the object is a shark close enough to threaten beachgoers, and automated ... […]
- Scope for deeper tie-up between ISRO and DRDO: scientiston February 22, 2018 at 5:27 pm
“It is essential to safeguard the seas around India for the sake of the country ... NPOL, which is engaged in R&D in Sound Navigation and Ranging (Sonar) systems and allied technologies, had developed ... […]
- A Breakthrough Agreement On Sonar Safeguards for Whales and Our Oceanson September 17, 2015 at 3:49 pm
Sometimes lasting change takes a lot longer than it should. Consider, for example, the U.S. Navy's testing and training with heavy explosives and high-intensity sonar in species-rich coastal waters ... […]
- Navy Hit with Lawsuits after Rejecting Coastal Commission Safeguards for Massive High-Intensity Sonar Exercises off Southern California Coaston March 21, 2007 at 4:59 pm
LOS ANGELES (March 22, 2007) -- The California Coastal Commission and an environmental coalition led by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) today filed separate lawsuits against the U.S. Navy ... […]
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