A Honolulu federal judge signed a deal with the US Navy and environmental groups last Monday to limit the use of sonar that could mean harm to the whales and dolphins in the waters around Hawaii and California.
This deal restricts or bans the use of mid-frequency active sonar and explosives that the US Navy use in training exercises. Environmental groups say that the sonar disturbs the feeding of marine mammals, and could eventually cause deafness, and even death to the said creatures.
Earthjustice lawyer David Henkin said in an interview that the deal means that the navy cannot use sonar in a well known habitat for beaked whales between the islands of Santa Catalina and San Nicolas.
The deal also states that sonar is banned in a blue whale feeding area in San Diego. Sonar and explosives traingin are also banned on the eastern part of the Big Island in Hawaii.
Aside from these, the number of major training exercises conducted by the navy in the area between Maui and the Big Island are to be set. Furthermore, any injuries or death will be investigated by the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Four years ago, four dolphins were killed by an explosives training in San Diego. Henkin hopes that these marine habitat areas will bring down the number of injuries and deaths to the marine wildlife.
Sonar driving is often blamed for mass strandings of whales. This activity emits some sort of traumatizing signals the drive the whales and dolphins ashore
Consequently, the deal ends all legal cases filed by Earthjustice and other environmental groups against the fisheries service for allowing the military training
US Pacific Fleet spokesperson Lt Cmdr Matt Knight said that the deal would not undermine the Navy’s key testing and training requirements.
“Recognising our environmental responsibilities, the Navy has been, and will continue to be, good environmental stewards as we prepare for and conduct missions in support of our national security,” he added.