Deal lets Navy make limited use of sonar in exercises off Hawaii

A temporary ban on Navy sonar use has been lifted, after the Navy agreed to take steps to protect whales in return for the dropping of a lawsuit by the Natural Resources Defense Council. The Navy is in the midst of the world’s largest naval war exercise near Hawaii; for the remainder of the exercise, mid-frequency active sonar will be disallowed within 25 nautical miles of the brand spankin’ new Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument. Also, some Navy sailors and pilots will be designated with the important if not glamorous job of, well, whale watching — keeping eyes and ears out for whales in distress. “Military readiness does not require, and our laws do not allow, our natural resources to be sacrificed in the name of national defense,” said Joel Reynolds of NRDC. He added that while enviros didn’t get everything they wanted, they believed the settlement was the best they could do. Marine mammals have been harmed or killed in at least 11 naval exercises worldwide since 1998.