Court Orders Navy to Lessen Sonar Impact on Marine Life

A U.S. District Court in Los Angeles has ordered the Navy to adopt a series of measures that would lessen the impact of sonar on whales and other marine life during exercises off Southern California.

The preliminary injunction issued Thursday requires the Navy to create a 12-nautical-mile no-sonar zone along the coast, have trained lookouts watch for marine mammals before and during exercises and shut down sonar when mammals are spotted within 2,200 yards.

The Natural Resources Defense Council filed the lawsuit to force the Navy to lessen the harm of its sonar exercises. In November, a federal appeals court said the sonar problem needed to be fixed and sent the matter to a trial judge in Los Angeles to hammer out the details.

The council's lawsuit alleges the Navy's sonar causes whales and other mammals to beach themselves. But the Navy has said the exercises are vital for training and claims it already minimizes the risk to marine life.