The National Marine Fisheries Service has been accused of not providing adequate protection of marine life from the use of low-frequency active sonar systems used by the Navy.
Low frequency sonar systems used in most of the world’s oceans are harming precious marine life that depend on sound for navigation, communication, mating and catching prey.
Environmental groups issued a lawsuit claiming the 2012 allowance of the Navy to use low-frequency active (LFA) sonar systems was violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The rules were drawn up by the National Marine Fisheries Service but they have been accused of not doing enough to protect marine animals from the sonar used to detect foreign submarines.
The U.S. court acknowledged that the Navy was following the rules sufficiently but they weren’t enough to deter the adverse affects the sonar systems have on whales, dolphins and walruses amongst other animals. “The result is that a meaningful proportion of the world’s marine mammal habitat is under-protected,” says the court.
The Navy operates in nearly 70 percent of the world’s oceans and the frequency they use can detect submarines hundreds of miles away and can reach 140 decibels as far as 300 miles from their original source. To indicate how loud this is, if you were to go to a rock concert, you would experience around 130 decibels. This means the confusion for animals such as whales can occur over a large distance and can even cause adults to separate from their young leaving them abandoned and defenceless.
Although there are no studies to find the full affect of sonar systems on whales, researchers believe they can cause whales to completely change course and beach themselves.
The government has not commented yet on what the next step will be.