Navy sonar: Canadian environmental groups get legal standing in U.S. court case

Suit opposes naval exercises that would be harmful to marine animals and their habitat

By Larry Pynn, Vancouver Sun January 16, 2013

Canadian environmental groups have received legal standing in a U.S. suit that seeks to halt Navy sonar exercises that would threaten at-risk whales on the West Coast.

Margot Venton, a lawyer with Ecojustice, said Wednesday it is important for the U.S. courts to appreciate that ocean noise is an emerging issue in Canada, including for endangered southern resident killer whales in the shared waters of the Salish Sea.

Concerns over underwater noise are broad, she noted, and include not just sonar but continued expansion of Port Metro Vancouver and increased shipping through critical habitat of the killer whales.

The National Marine Fisheries Service, which is being sued by Earthjustice and others in the U.S. for approving the naval exercises, was opposed to Ecojustice — representing Georgia Strait Alliance, Wilderness Committee, Raincoast Conservation and David Suzuki Foundation — participating in the suit, Venton said.

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