Environment
3:26 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Court Sides With Navy Against Environmental Groups Trying To Protect Whales

A right whale mother and her calf
A right whale mother and her calf
Credit Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

A federal appeals court Tuesday ruled against environmental groups trying to stop the U.S. Navy from building an underwater training range off the coast of Jacksonville. The planned range is next to the only known birthplace of an endangered whale species.

The Florida Wildlife Federation is among the groups that’ve been involved since the Navy announced plans five years ago to hold submarine training in the area. The federation’s Sarah Owen Gledhill says the Navy failed to adequately assess whether the 500-square-mile training ground could interfere with the right whale, a species comprising as few as 300 animals.

Gledhill says, “They come here, they give birth there to their young, and they nurse them until they’re ready to go back up in the summer when the temperatures change.”

In its ruling, the Eleventh Circuit three-judge panel said the Navy made a rational decision based on information available at the time the case was originally filed. They also noted further environmental impact analysis is planned.