The first of this July we submitted our comments to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Ocean Noise Strategy Roadmap. As submitted for public review we were generally pleased with the tone and essence of the work. It leaned toward a more systematic and “ecosystem based” view of the ocean – including words such as “Soundscape” and “Acoustic Habitat.” The map included the need to understand noise impacts on fishes and marine invertebrates in the context of their roles in the ecosystem. It also included considerations for the soundscape quality – and how the impacts of continuous or chronic noise might compromise habitat, even while that noise might not trigger a regulator threshold.
The entire document was a breath of air – albeit not necessarily “fresh” as we have been harping on these considerations for years in our comments and critiques of the various Draft Environmental Impact Statements (DEIS) submitted by NOAA for public review. What the Roadmap does then is canonize these many concerns in a NOAA document – which will allow us to refer to “the whole cloth” when making future comments on DEIS’s as opposed to digging up the most current published papers to substantiate our points and concerns.
We did make a number of recommendations. Some a bit technical for this newsletter, others sensible – like expanding research into noise impacts relative to noise qualities and evaluating noise impacts of new communication signals being introduced into the ocean.
We were honored to have a number of groups sign on to the critique – giving it a bit more gravitas.
The one thing that was conspicuously absent from the Roadmap was an Action Plan. While some of the issues are being advanced by NOAA, there is no timeline. So in balance the Roadmap will be helpful to us in highlighting our concerns, but it will limit its utility if NOAA leaves it in the glovebox.
NOAA Ocean Noise Strategy Roadmap