Obama Administration Sets Goals for Reducing Ocean Noise

WASHINGTON – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced today a “roadmap” to protect whales, fish, and other marine species from pervasive ocean noise, citing “large increases” in underwater noise generated by human activities. 

The following is a statement by Michael Jasny, director of the Marine Mammal Protection Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):

“This holds great promise for managing noise as the pervasive ocean pollutant it has become.  The key, though, is implementation—and that takes resources, and a timeline for getting it done.  We hope this means that NOAA, after years of inaction, is turning a corner on a critical conservation issue."

Operations that create ocean noise include naval sonar, commercial shipping and seismic airgun blasting for fossil fuel exploration.  Those activities emit sounds that can be deafening for whales and other animals and make it hard for them to find food, select mates, avoid predators, and navigate.

NOAA’s ocean strategy calls for better collection of information on how underwater noise is increasing.  It also commits NOAA to a variety of measures for reducing underwater noise, such as: promoting quieter technologies, making better use of existing laws to minimize disruption of important marine mammal habitat, and restoring the natural soundscape in National Marine Sanctuaries.

NRDC has been a leader, for more than two decades, in the fight against ocean noise pollution.

For more information, see Michael Jasny’s blog: https://www.nrdc.org/experts/michael-jasny/noaa-announcement-ocean-noise-sea-change-if-we-want-it

See also background on recently released documentary “Sonic Sea”: www.sonicsea.org and https://www.nrdc.org/media/2016/160506

See more information on ocean noise here: https://www.nrdc.org/issues/ocean-noise and https://www.nrdc.org/issues/protect-marine-mammals-ocean-noise

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Livingston, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at http://www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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