A proposal by the U.S. Navy to up its sonar usage and conduct more underwater explosives training off the California coast was rejected by the state’s Coastal Commission on Friday.
Commissioners feared the increased uses would adversely affect whales and other ocean life in the Pacific Ocean, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The Navy already conducts testing in at least 120,000 square nautical miles off the coast and the Commission’s rejection of increased training does not affect current training programs.
“The Navy estimated that the [increased] training, at most, could kill 130 marine mammals in five years and lead to hearing loss for 1,600, although the environmentalists branded that a gross underestimate,” the Times reported.
Dayna Bochco, a commissioner from Los Angeles, said the plan “seems like an extraordinary increase [in sonar and other training] when we’re at peace, in most places,” according to the Times.
A commander for the Navy told the Commission that California’s waters are the best area for training the country’s Pacific fleet. Cmdr. John Doney also said the U.S.’s enemies are working on state-of-the-art submarines which the Navy needs to be properly prepared to combat.
“I would submit the threat is real and the threat is out there,” he said.
Navy officials pledged to continue working on a compromise with Coastal staff after the vote and bring back the item at a later date.