Navy agrees to limit sonar training in Pacific

Navy agrees to limit sonar training in Pacific
David Henkin
David Henkin

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Navy has agreed to new restrictions on its sonar training and other testing activities that harm marine life off Hawaii and Southern California. A federal judge in Honolulu signed the settlement on Monday.

"For years, we've been told it's a choice between protecting marine mammals and protecting the country. This is an agreement that the Navy said they can do, so people should feel comfortable," said Earthjustice attorney David Henkin.

In 2013, environmentalists sued the National Marine Fisheries Services for approving the Navy's five-year plan.

"The fisheries service gave the green light to training that its own studies showed would cause the deaths of up to 155 whales and dolphins and other marine mammals and permanently injure more than 2,000 more," said Henkin.

The settlement prohibits or limits the use of mid-frequency active sonar and underwater explosives.

"Here in Hawaii, it's all around the Hawaiian Islands with the areas that we protected through today's agreement focused on Maui County and around the Big Island," said Henkin.

A spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet said the settlement preserves critically important testing and training.

"Recognizing 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," said Lt. Cmdr. Matt Knight.

In Southern California, the Navy is prohibited from using sonar in the habitat for beaked whales between Santa Catalina Island and San Nicolas Island, according to environmental groups. Sonar is also not allowed in blue whale feeding areas near San Diego.

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