By Associated Press, Updated: Thursday, January 26, 7:04 AM
SEATTLE — Conservationists and Native American tribes are suing over the Navy’s expanded use of sonar in training exercises off the Washington, Oregon and California coasts, saying the noise can harass and kill whales and other marine life.
In a lawsuit being filed Thursday by the environmental law firm Earthjustice, the Natural Resources Defense Council and other groups against the National Marine Fisheries Service claims the service was wrong to approve the Navy’s plan for the expanded training.
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The Marine Life Protection Act Initiative’s contracted sonar mapping vessel ‘Pacific Star,’ working illegally without a permit or a marine mammal observer, struck and killed a 72-foot blue whale off Fort Bragg, CA on Oct. 19, 2009.
The incident was quietly covered-up by officials with the California Natural Resources Agency, the Ocean Protection Council and the Califronia State Lands Commission.
To avoid adverse publicity, backers of the California MLPAI shifted responsibility for the accident to the federal NOAA. That agency subsequently conducted its own, internal investigation of itself.
Recently proposed “Marine Reserve Areas,” of the MLPAI, that carry various so-called “Levels of Protection” DID NOTHING to protect marine mammals from Navy sonar in the new “protected areas,” despite focused public outcry to the contrary.
Such objections were simply ignored by a heedless MLPAI “Initiative.”