Navy told to save the whales

In a resounding victory for whales and other marine mammals, a federal court has handed down a decision against the U.S. Navy and in favour of the suit of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to bar the Navy from using its high-intensity Low Frequency Active sonar system in most of the oceans of the world.

"The LFA sonar system would have blasted hundreds of thousands of square miles of ocean habitat with noise so intense, it can maim, deafen and even kill whales," says NRDC president John H. Adams.

In her historic ruling, Judge LaPorte agreed that the sonar could "irreparably harm" the marine environment and threaten the very survival of endangered populations of whales, sea turtles and other marine species. She has ordered the Navy to negotiate with NRDC on a plan to safely test the sonar system in a limited area.

It is a ruling that Adams says "sends a message loud and clear to the White House that it is not above our nation's environmental laws. The Bush administration trampled all over those laws when it gave the Navy a blank check to operate the deadly LFA sonar system virtually anywhere in the world."

Adams attributes the eight-year struggle's success to the NRDC legal strategy that was fueled by the donations and online activism of hundreds of thousands of its members.

But he warns that the fight may not be over because the Navy could appeal the court's ruling.

"Right now the Bush administration is trying to get exemptions for the Navy from some of the very environmental laws NRDC used to block deployment of the LFA system," he said, adding the NRDC will do everything it can to ensure these efforts do not succeed.

For more information, visit the NRDC website: http://www.nrdc.org