SEATTLE (AP) - The U.S. Navy has received authorization from federal biologists to expand sonar testing and other warfare training off the coast of Washington, Oregon and Northern California.
The National Marine Fisheries Service said Thursday it renewed the Navy's five-year permit after concluding underwater explosions, sonar activity and other exercises would cause mostly short-term, low-level effects to marine mammals such as orcas and humpback whales protected under federal law.
The Navy says it needs to ensure its forces are well prepared and has trained for decades in the area without significant impacts on marine mammals.
Critics say sonar can disrupt the ability of those mammals to forage for food and communicate with one another, while causing injuries at close distances.
They want the Navy to limit the areas and times when it conducts training.