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Seeking public comment on Marine Mammal Acoustic Guidance

More Information

For more information on NOAA’s marine mammal acoustic work and our incidental take authorization process, please visit the links below.

Ocean Acoustics 

Incidental Take

Cetacean and Sound Mapping


NOAA Fisheries, through the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act, is entrusted with the protection and management of whale, seal, sea lion, and dolphin populations. One way we do this is through our assessment of auditory impacts to marine mammals caused by underwater human-made sound sources. These sounds can be produced for a specific purpose, such as military sonar or the seismic air guns used in oil and gas exploration, or as a by-product, such as sounds from construction activities or explosive detonations.

Marine mammals use sound underwater to communicate, navigate, and find food. Working cooperatively to reduce, or eliminate if we can, underwater noise pollution is a key method we use to recover and maintain marine mammal populations.

NOAA Fisheries, in partnership with the National Ocean Service, will be releasing draft Marine Mammal Acoustic Guidance to update our acoustic threshold levels for determining the onset of auditory impacts, either temporary or permanent. This Guidance will serve as a tool for us to better quantify the effects of sound exposure on marine mammals and will be used in our assessments and authorizations of activities under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act.

This will be the first time acoustic threshold levels have been presented in a single, comprehensive document. NOAA Fisheries believes this will improve consistent implementation across the laws that protect marine mammals.

These acoustic threshold levels have been peer-reviewed by independent scientific experts and were available for public review and comment through March 13, 2014 (see the Federal Register notice for more information).

NOAA Fisheries will publish our final acoustic Guidance document after we review and incorporate public comments on the proposed draft. We anticipate having the Guidance finalized in winter 2014/ 2015.