The legal suit brought by the Natural Resource Defense Counsel has begun the final phase in U.S. District Court over Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System Low Frequency Active -- or LFA.
Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Laporte has already slapped a preliminary injunction against the use of LFA. The environmental plaintiffs "are likely to prevail on a number of issues" in the case, she wrote. By authorizing the Navy to test LFA in as much as 75 percent of the world's oceans, the Bush administration may have violated a number of environmental regulations, including provisions of the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
"There is no doubt that LFA kills whales. My ship, Ocean Warrior, was off the Bahamas in March of 2000 when at least eight whales were killed when the Navy tested its "53 C" active sonar." Said Captain Paul Watson. "The Navy lied at the time and said there was no connection between the tests and the deaths of the whales. A year later, they admitted that they were in fact responsible. Knowing this they are seeking to deploy this deadly system worldwide. The United States Navy has in effect declared war on the world's whales."
With eight deafeningly loud speakers, LFA can produce up to 240 decibels of sound, according to Joel Reynolds, an NRDC attorney. "That's the equivalent of standing next to a Saturn V rocket at takeoff," he said. For the Navy to comply with the Marine Mammals Protection Act, the government has to show that LFA tests have a "negligible" effect on whales. That's something the Navy hasn't been able to do. Nor has the military been able to demonstrate they considered "all reasonable alternatives." For now, the NRDC and the Navy have agreed to allow testing of LFA in about a million square miles of the Pacific Ocean, near the Mariana Islands. Whether the military will be able to use LFA elsewhere is now in the hands of Judge Laporte.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is in full support of the NRDC case against the Navy.
More information about the NRDC and this issue can be found at: www.nrdc.org.