NOAA Fisheries Asks for Third Round of Public Comments on Draft Acoustic Guidelines

March 15, 2016

New science on how noise levels affects marine mammal hearing.

Connie Barclay
(301) 427-8029
connie.barclay@noaa.gov

NOAA Fisheries is asking for public comments on proposed changes to its draft guidelines that will be used to determine the effects of human-made sounds on marine mammals.

These guidelines will be used by federal agencies, industry and others conducting activities that generate underwater noise, such as military testing and oil and gas exploration.

The guidelines will serve as a tool for NOAA Fisheries to better quantify the effects of sound exposure on marine mammal hearing, and will be used in our assessments and authorizations of activities under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act.

“This is the first time acoustic threshold levels have been presented in a single, comprehensive document,” Eileen Sobeck, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries said. “Our agency believes this will improve consistent implementation across the laws that protect marine mammals.”

NOAA Fisheries first took public comments on its draft acoustic guidelines in late 2013, and then again in 2015. After receiving comments, reviewing new science, and re-evaluating certain aspects of the document, the agency made updates to the guidelines based on the best scientific information available at this time. The agency is also conducting a concurrent follow-up peer review so experts can evaluate and comment on the revised sections.

The public will have an additional 14 days to comment on the proposed changes to the draft guidelines, starting on March 16, 2016. 

NOAA Fisheries will publish its final acoustic guidelines later this year.

Background on the Acoustic Guidelines