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The Navy agreed to limit its use of sonar and other training that inadvertently harms whales, dolphins and other marine mammals off Hawaii and California in a settlement with environmental groups approved Monday.

A centerpiece of the agreement signed by a federal judge in Honolulu includes limits or bans on mid-frequency active sonar and explosives in specified areas around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California, Earthjustice attorney David Henkin said.

Sonar at a great distance can disrupt feeding and communication of marine mammals, and it can cause deafness or death at a closer distance, Henkin said.

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