On August 26, 2003, federal magistrate Judge Elizabeth Laporte announced her intention to issue a permanent injunction against the global deployment of the Navy's Low Frequency Active (LFA) sonar system. She directed the parties to meet and confer on the location of a limited area where, during the term of the injunction, the Navy could test and train with the system in the interest of national security.
On Wednesday, October 8, 2003, a coalition of conservation and animal welfare organizations, the U.S. Navy, and the National Marine Fisheries Service signed and submitted for approval in federal court an agreement limiting LFA sonar's future deployment.
The agreement will only govern the Navy's use of the system during peacetime, provides the following:
- Instead of its existing authorization to deploy LFA sonar over 75% of the world's oceans, the Navy will limit deployment to specific areas along the eastern seaboard of Asia (around North Korea and China), which includes portions of the Sea of Japan, the East China Sea, the South China Sea, and the Philippine Sea (see map below).
| Agreed Deployment Area |
Within these areas, the Navy has agreed to certain year-round and seasonal exclusions to protect important whale migrations for example, the western gray and humpback whales and to coastal exclusions ranging from 30 nautical miles to 60 nautical miles.
All other areas of the world's oceans will be off limits, including, for example, the waters around Hawaii, throughout the North Pacific, and along the eastern seaboard of the United States, all of which were specifically sought by the Navy for operations at various points in the litigation.