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Navy Faces Potential Sonar Use Restrictions

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Aired 4/19/09

A federal appeals court has ordered the U.S. Navy not to use mid-frequency sonar in its future training exercises off the California coast. The sonar has been found to harm marine mammals. KPBS reporter Ed Joyce has more.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and other groups challenged the Navy's use of the mid-frequency sonar. The waters off Southern California have high concentrations of whales and dolphins.

Michael Jasny is with the NRDC . He says the Navy can do the testing but with precautions.

Jasny : They can adopt larger safety zones that protect marine mammals close to sonar ships. They can avoid key whale habitat including the seasonal migration of gray whales down the California coast.

A recent court ruling allowed the Navy to use the sonar through its current testing which ends November 22. A District court is widely expected to order the Navy to make changes in the way it tests the sonar to protect marine life. Just what those changes will be hasn't been decided yet.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

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