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State Wants Navy to Restrict Sonar Use

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Aired 4/19/09

The California Coastal Commission and an environmental group are suing the U.S. Navy over sonar training exercises off the state's coastline. KPBS Reporter Ed Joyce has details.

In separate lawsuits, the California Coastal Commission and the National Resources Defense Council, want to stop the Navy's use of high-intensity sonar. The Navy says the coastal commission has no jurisdiction to regulate naval exercises in federal waters. The groups claim the plan to repeatedly blast sonar sound waves into marine habitat areas will harm whales. Sara Wan is a member of the state coastal commission.

Wan: The commission has two primary interests here. One is to retain its jurisdiction which is critical OK, and the other is to protect the mammals in the way that we feel it's essential to do for these particular exercises."

Scientists say high intensity, mid-frequency sonar has been directly linked to mass strandings of whales and the deaths of other marine mammals worldwide. The Navy's training exercises started last month off the state's coast. Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

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