U.S. Navy Agrees to Reduce Use of Sonar System Linked to Whale Deaths

In a sweet but possibly temporary victory for environmentalists, the U.S. Navy has agreed to dramatically decrease its use of a low-frequency sonar system that has been associated with the deaths of whales and other marine mammals. A court agreement announced yesterday limits the Navy to using the sonar system in less than 1 percent of the global range originally approved by federal authorities. That’s the good news. The bad news is that despite accepting the agreement, Navy officials say it will impair military readiness and are pushing to modify the Marine Mammal Protection Act and other laws to allow it to use the sonar more extensively. Still, sonar systems are rapidly losing favor worldwide: On the same day that the U.S. agreement was announced, a bill was introduced in the European Parliament to limit NATO’s use of the technology.