Judge LaPorte form the 9th District courts has approved a settlement on the SURTASS-LFA sonar (Surveillance Towed Array Sonar System – Low Frequency Active). This settlement continues to limit the deployment of Low frequency Active Sonar to certain areas in the South Pacific (where they have been operating since 2003) with certain restrictions, and in training areas adjacent to the Hawaiian Islands with some seasonal and geographical constraints.
I have not had the opportunity to fully evaluate the settlement, but everybody seems pleased; Michael Jasny with NRDC, Dr. Naomi Rose from the Humane Society US, Jeffrey Flocken from IFAW, and even Lt. Sean Robertson from the US Navy are all agreeable to the outcome.
From the first Environmental Impact Statement in 2000 until this judgment the US Navy was claiming that SURTASS-LFA was required in 80% of the world oceans to protect our country from enemy submarines. Given how amenable the Navy now seems to be on this settlement, my cynical side seems to think that the SURTASS program technology has outlived its usefulness and thus may no longer be in alignment with US Navy communication strategies. If I am correct we may not need to address this particular specter any further.
Many thanks to Joel Reynolds, Michael Jasny and Cara Horowitz with NRDC for holding the line on SURTASS-LFA for the last eight years. Given yesterday’s outcome they have done a deep service to to the planet by staving off a questionable program which has hopefully passed through the system.
Also thanks to many of you for stepping up over the years to write your representatives and newspapers, showing up for public hearings and demonstrations, and discussing the issue with friends and strangers. Without such openly expressed public concern LFAS would have been a global feature of the ocean acoustic environment.
Thanks also to Jim Cummings with Acoustic Ecology for alerting us to the settlement (http://www.acousticecology.org/news.html) and for providing the article links below: