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Navy should not be allowed to use LFA sonar systems: Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California has said that low-frequency active (LFA) sonar systems used in world’s oceans violates the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Also, they have a negative impact on dolphins, seals, whales and walruses, as they are dependent on underwater sound for navigation.
LFA are used in areas covering 70% of the world’s oceans. The court has ruled out that it would not allow the Navy to use the LFA sonar systems to detect the presence of submarines. Experts said that the navy sonar systems could generate sound waves as high as 235 decibels.
Sound waves from sonar systems have capacity to travel hundreds of miles underwater without losing the intensity from the source. According to the court ruling, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has put in more efforts to avoid any damage to marine environments and populations.
But, environmental advocates have said that the sonar systems affect the feeding and mating behavior of marine animals that are dependent on sound to catch prey and for other communication. In 2012, the NMFS permitted the use of navy sonar.
The five-year plan was delayed or all together stopped when marine animal was found near the ship. Loud solar pulses were not permitted in protected water and near coastlines. The court has ruled out that the approval has failed to meet a section of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which demands least negative impact on marine mammals.
Though the Navy did try to follow the guidelines, the agency has not provided proper protection to areas considered biologically and ecologically important. As per the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which has filed a case owing to the 2012 incident, has claimed that the NMFS’s five-year plan has resulted into 155 deaths and 9.6 million cases of temporary injury of marine life.