Hawaiian Whale Sanctuary

August 2003

Federal judge sides with NRDC in sonar case

In August 2003, following years of citizen action by BioGems Defenders and other NRDC activists opposed to the use of Low Frequency Active sonar, a federal judge ruled that a U.S. Navy plan to deploy an intense LFA sonar system across most of the world's oceans was illegal. Siding with an NRDC-led coalition of environmental and animal-welfare groups, the judge ordered the Navy to limit its use of the technology, which uses powerful underwater sound blasts to detect submarines, injuring and even killing marine mammals and fish in the process.

Leading up to the court decision, BioGems Defenders and other NRDC activists flooded the Navy with tens of thousands of protest messages, prompting NRDC to add the Hawaiian Islands Whale Sanctuary, a critical breeding ground for humpback and sperm whales targeted for possible sonar testing, to the 2004 BioGems watchlist.