NOAA Fisheries is asking for a third round of public comment through March 30 on its draft guidelines that will be used to determine the effects of human-made sounds on marine mammals.
NOAA’s final acoustic guidelines, to be published later this year, will be used by federal agencies, industry and others conducting activities that generate underwater noise, including military testing and oil and gas exploration. These guidelines, which are technical in nature, identify the received levels, or thresholds, at which individual marine mammals are predicted to experience changes in their hearing sensitivity, either temporary or permanent, for all underwater anthropogenic sound sources.
These guidelines will be a tool for NOAA fisheries to better quantify the effects of sound exposure on marine mammal hearing, and will be used in NOAA’s assessments and authorizations of activities under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act.
NOAA Fisheries began taking public comments on its draft acoustic guidelines in late 2013 and then against 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. NOAA also conducted a concurrent follow-up peer review so experts can evaluate and comment on the revised sections.
Background on the acoustic guidelines is online at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/acoustics/guidelines.htm
Comments may be submitted electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal http://www.regulations.gov. Comments may also be mailed to Chief, Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, silver Spring, MD 20910-3226, Attn: Acoustic Guidance.
All comments become part of the public record and will generally be posted to http://www.regulations.gov without change.