Lawsuit Challenges Fisheries Approval of Navy Training Plan

December 17, 2013, 8:54 AM HST · Updated December 18, 5:54 AM
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Study Area for the Hawaii Southern California training and testing EIS OEIS.

Study Area for the Hawaii Southern California training and testing EIS OEIS.

By Wendy Osher

The environmental law firm, Earthjustice, filed a lawsuit in federal curt on Monday, challenging the National Marine Fisheries Service’s approval of a five-year plan for naval testing and training that includes the use of sonar and explosives.

Environmental groups say the operations planned off of Hawaiʻi and Southern California are, “known to cause permanent injuries and deaths to marine mammals.”

The suit claims that according to their own studies, the Navy and Fisheries Service estimate that training will result in instances of harm to whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals.

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Groups represented in the Earthjustice suit include: Conservation Council for Hawai‘i, the Animal Welfare Institute, Center for Biological Diversity and Ocean Mammal Institute.

The naval plan covers the period between 2014 and 2019. According to an Environmental Impact Statement executive summary, “the Navy carries out training and testing activities to be able to protect the United States against its enemies, as well as to protect and defend the rights of the United States and its allies to move freely on the oceans.”

Although alternatives were offered in the EIS document, the groups claim the Fisheries Service approved the Navy’s plan, “without evaluating any alternatives that would place biologically important areas off-limits to training and testing.”

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