Navy sonar, cetaceans and the US Supreme Court: A review of cetacean mitigation and litigation in the US

TitleNavy sonar, cetaceans and the US Supreme Court: A review of cetacean mitigation and litigation in the US
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsZirbel, K., Balint P., and Parsons E. C. M.
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Volume63
Pagination40-48
ISBN Number0025-326X
EndNote Rec Number8525
Keywordsbeaked whale, cetacean, Court cases, Environmental laws, mitigation measures, Naval sonar
Abstract

One source of anthropogenic noise in the oceans which has attracted much concern is naval sonar. As a result of possible impacts of such sonar, several environmental NGOs have pursued legal cases in the United States criticizing environmental assessments conducted prior to exercises and proposed mitigation measures. Cases have been brought using the US National Environmental Protection Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act, Coastal Zone Management Act and other statutes. This paper reviews the chronology and results of these various cases. During the G.W. Bush presidential administration, the legal battle went to the US Supreme Court in the case Winter vs. Natural Resources Defense Council. This case however, did not address the potential impacts of sonar on cetaceans or the effectiveness of mitigation measures. During the Obama administration, mitigation measures for naval exercises have been revised, and working groups planned, in an attempt to resolve conflict between parties.