What is the problem?
Sound is a fundamental component of underwater habitat that many animals have evolved to rely on over millions of years. Over the past century, human activity that generates noise has increased. Higher noise levels can reduce the ability of animals to communicate with potential mates, other group members, their offspring, or feeding partners. Noise can also reduce an ocean animal's ability to hear environmental cues that are vital for their survival.
What is the Purpose of the Strategy?
The purpose of NOAA’s Ocean Noise Strategy is to articulate the agency’s vision for addressing ocean noise impacts to the species, ecosystems and places it is entrusted to protect and guide science and management actions towards that vision.
How did NOAA's Approach Evolve?
NOAA's approach to managing ocean noise aims to reduce negative physical and behavioral impacts to trust species, as well as conserve the quality of acoustic habitats. In 2010, NOAA committed to improving the tools used by the Agency to manage underwater noise impacts more comprehensively, including to better address cumulative impacts to whales, dolphins, and porpoises. This commitment led to two phases:
CetSound, or Cetacean & Sound Mapping, was an initial effort (2010-2012) to create two mapping tools: CetMap and SoundMap, to assist in evaluating the impacts of underwater noise on whales, dolphins, and porpoises.
- CetMap provided cetacean density and distribution maps that are time-, region- and species-specific. The Marine Mammal Data Availability and BIA products have continued to evolve.
- SoundMap provided maps of the temporal, spatial, and frequency characteristics of man-made underwater noise resulting from various activities.
- CetSound Symposium 2012: Tools were presented at a stakeholder meeting which discussed their further development and possible management applications. CetSound Symposium Final Report
NOAA Ocean Noise Strategy
Following the successful conclusion of the 2012 CetSound Symposium, NOAA leadership recommended that we expand our Phase 1 focus to:
- identify a 10-yr vision for reducing ocean noise impacts on NOAA trust resources
- develop an integrated strategy to implement this vision through our statutory authorities and expertise
- guide further development of the most effective science-based tools
- expand outreach to stakeholders and educating the public
The development of a NOAA-wide, forward looking Ocean Noise Strategy to achieve these goals was then initiated.