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NOAA's Marine Mammal Acoustic Guidelines
Status of NOAA's Guidelines for Assessing Impacts of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammals
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is developing acoustic guidelines for assessing the effects of anthropogenic sound on marine mammal species under our jurisdiction. NOAA analysts/managers intend to use the guidelines to:
- Summarize past policies and update basic science-based guidance
- Increase transparency and consistency of how acoustic effects on marine mammals are assessed in the context of our authorizations, permits, consultations, and exemptions under various environmental statutes (e.g., MMPA, ESA, and National Marine Sanctuaries Act).
NOAA intends to organize the guidelines in a manner that reflects the evolution of the underlying science and management decisions related to the effects of anthropogenic sound on marine mammals. We will provide our past acoustic criteria, as well as updated procedures for assessing acoustic effects based on recent advances in science. NOAA is working toward numerical criteria where appropriate and possible, while general analytical paradigms will be used in other cases (i.e., for instances where context- or environmental-specific factors reduce or eliminate the relevance of broadly applicable numerical criteria). Thus, the acoustic guidelines will reflect qualitative considerations (e.g., masking, stress, cumulative impacts, and population consequences of sound exposure), as well as numerical criteria for temporary threshold shift (TTS) and permanent threshold shift (PTS) onset. The guidelines will also include an approach for updating acoustic criteria and policy guidance.
Where are we in the Process?
The process to finalize the guidelines includes the following steps:
- NOAA internal review
- External peer review
- Public comment
- Finalize and release guidelines
NOAA's draft Acoustic Guidelines are currently undergoing an internal review within NOAA. The peer review will focus on scientific and technical studies that have been applied, as well as the manner that NOAA applies them in the guidelines. The reviewers will not focus on policy decisions made within the document (e.g., the amount of uncertainty that is acceptable, the amount of precaution that should be embedded in the analysis). After peer review, NOAA will seek public comment. Once the peer review and public comments are addressed, NOAA will finalize and release the acoustic guidelines.
For more information, please contact:
Amy R. Scholik-Schlomer
NMFS Protected Resources Acoustic Coordinator
1315 East West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Updated: March 19, 2013