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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.
The document provides guidance for assessing the effects of anthropogenic sound on marine mammal species under NOAA’s jurisdiction. Specifically, it provides noise exposure levels for onset of permanent threshold shift (PTS) and temporary threshold shifts (TTS) for all sound sources and behavioral response zones for seismic surveys (e.g., primary sound source is airguns). It is intended to be used by NOAA analysts/managers and other relevant user groups/stakeholders, including other federal agencies to better predict a marine mammal’s response to sound exposure in a manner that has the potential to trigger certain requirements under one or more of NOAA’s statutes (e.g., MMPA, ESA, and National Marine Sanctuaries Act).
To develop these noise exposure levels, NOAA evaluated currently available information on the effects of anthropogenic sound on marine mammals, as well as developed a method for updating these levels through a systematic, transparent process. This document is intended to outline noise exposure levels, how they were developed, and how they will be reviewed and assessed as additional science becomes available.
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 has undergone an internal review within NOAA on the scientific/technical aspects of the document. NOAA is still working through issues relating to the implementation of the science under our various statutes.
The external peer review, which began in July 2013, focuses on the scientific and technical studies that have been applied. The reviewers will not focus on the implementation aspects of 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 on the scientific and implementation aspects of the document. 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: August 19, 2013