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San Diegans Can Weigh In On Navy’s Plan To Protect Marine Life Monday

Greg Schorr, a researcher at Cascadia Research Collective, photographs a pod ...

Photo by AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy

Above: Greg Schorr, a researcher at Cascadia Research Collective, photographs a pod of pilot whales off the Kona coast of Hawaii, Aug. 25, 2007. The crew had been looking for beaked whales for a study of their vulnerability to U.S. Navy sonar. Beaked whales have been at the center of the dispute over the Navy's use of sonar ever since several washed ashore bleeding around their brains and ears during Navy exercises in the Bahamas in 2000.

The public will be able to comment on the Navy’s plan to manage potential damage to whales and other marine life from its training exercises in Southern California.

Under federal law, the Navy is required to mitigate its impact on wildlife in the busy training ranges between San Diego and Hawaii. In 2015, a judge’s decision in a lawsuit brought by the Natural Resource Defense Council and other environmental groups required the Navy to avoid certain migration routes and other sensitive habitat.

“We’re not interested in having the Navy stop training,” said Miyoko Sakashita, spokeswoman with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Rather, that they go forward and limit the activity that can harm whales, like active sonar use and explosives in the really core areas of resting areas and breeding areas.”

Sonar has been linked to hearing loss among marine mammals.

Among the proposals under consideration, the Navy proposes limiting the use of active sonar during most exercises. The draft environmental impact statement is 832 pages. The current plan expires in 2018.

The only public hearing scheduled for San Diego is 5 to 8 p.m. Monday at the United Portuguese SES Hall at 2818 Avenida De Portugal.

A 2015 lawsuit required the Navy to add extra protections for whales and marine habitats between San Diego and Hawaii. The Navy's plan is up for public review.

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