Finally, some relief for the whales is in sight! It was just ruled that the sonar approved for use by the US Navy violated the Marine Mammal Protection Act, according to a San Francisco federal appeals court. This ruling is a major victory for marine mammals, and for the Marine Mammal Protection Act that protects them. The Navy’s loud, powerful, low-frequency sonar travels hundreds of miles underwater, impacting many marine mammal species such as whales, affecting their ability to communicate, feed, and reproduce. This new July 2016 ruling reversed a lower court decision upholding approval granted in 2012 for the Navy to use low-frequency sonar for training, testing and routine operations. The 2012 rules adopted by the National Marine Fisheries Service permitted Navy sonar use to affect whales and other marine mammals.
Now the Navy will have to re-evaluate how they use sonar during peacetime to be less disturbing to marine mammals, let’s hope this means that things will quiet down for the great giants of the sea.