POINT PLEASANT BEACH (AP) — Five fishing groups are asking a federal court to stop a research program that blasts the ocean floor with sound waves, arguing it's disturbing marine life off the coast of New Jersey.

Beach in Asbury Park/ (Chris Swendeman, Townsquare Media NJ)

The lawsuit filed Friday seeks a halt to the program being carried out by Rutgers University, the University of Texas and the National Science Foundation.

The project uses sound waves to study sediment on the ocean floor dating back 60 million years to see how sea level rise has changed the coastline, and better plan for storms like Superstorm Sandy.

The lawsuit is separate from one filed by the state Environmental Protection Department.

The lead researcher on the project says the work is continuing "in full compliance with laws that protect marine life."

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