The Wholesale Rejection by NMFS of the OMB Peer Review Guidelines in the Development of its Acoustic Guidance

NMFS has conducted four peer reviews of its Acoustic Guidance. In each and every instance it has failed to comply with OMB’s regulations dealing with HISA’s (Highly Influential Scientific Assessments.  Doing more is different from doing right.

Here is a detailed accounting of the NMFS Peer Review f violations.


NMFS Discusses Behavioral Effects Thresholds in IHA

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization to Bay State Wind LLC to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to high-resolution geophysical and geotechnical survey investigations associated with marine site characterization activities off the coast of Massachusetts in the area of the Commercial Lease of Submerged Lands for Renewable Energy Development on the Outer Continental. This IHA is effective August 13, 2016, through August 12, 2017.

NMFS continues to use 160 dB as the effects threshold for behavioral effects, and the IHA includes some discussion of NMFS’ current thinking on behavioral effects.  NMFS states in response to Marine Mammal Commission comments:

Marine Mammal Observer Training

Intelligent Ocean Ltd ( is running the following training courses during September in Kings Lynn, Norfolk, UK for which there are spaces available.

  • Introduction to Passive Acoustic Monitoring 12th September 2016 (there is an online training component to this course that must be completed before this practical day)
  • Joint Nature Conservation Committee Marine Mammal Observer Training for UK – 13th September 2016
  • Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Protected Species Observer Training for Gulf of Mexico, USA – 14th September 2016

To book a place use the online booking system at this link

New NOAA/NMFS Acoustic Thresholds Document

NOAA/NMFS has published a final new document the agency calls Technical Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing—Underwater Acoustic Thresholds for Onset of Permanent and Temporary Threshold Shifts.

According to NOAA/NMFS, this document:

“provides acoustic thresholds for onset of permanent threshold shift (PTS) and temporary threshold shifts (TTS) in marine mammal hearing for all sound sources. It is intended to be used by NOAA analysts and managers, other federal agencies, and other relevant user groups/stakeholders to better predict how a marine mammal’s hearing will respond to sound exposure. The manner of response has the potential to trigger certain requirements under one or more of NOAA’s statutes (MMPAESA, and National Marine Sanctuaries Act).”

NMFS Issues L-DEO an IHA for Southeast Pacific Ocean

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has issued an incidental harassment authorization to Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in collaboration with the National Science Foundation (NSF), to incidentally take, by level B harassment, 44 species of marine mammals, and to incidentally take, by Level A harassment, 26 species of marine mammals, during three marine geophysical (seismic) surveys in the southeast Pacific Ocean. This Authorization is effective from August 1, 2016, through July 31, 2017.

Click here for NMFS’ Federal Register notice of this IHA.

NMFS Authorizes Anchor Retrieval Takes

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization to Fairweather, LLC.  NMFS issued this IHA under regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act.  It authorizes Fairweather to take, by harassment, small numbers of 12 species of marine mammals incidental to an anchor retrieval program in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, Alaska, during the open-water season of 2016.

Click here to read more about this action.

FWS Issues Final Take Rules for Polar Bears and Pacific Walruses

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has published final incidental take regulations that authorize the nonlethal, incidental, unintentional take of small numbers of Pacific walruses and polar bears during oil and gas industry activities in the Beaufort Sea and adjacent northern coast of Alaska. Industry operations include similar types of activities covered by the previous 5-year Beaufort Sea ITRs effective from August 3, 2011, through August 3, 2016. This rule is also effective for 5 years from the date of issuance. FWS states that it is issuing these rules pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

NOAA Seeks Comment on Draft Procedural Handbook for Scientific Integrity

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Research (OAR) has published a notice on behalf of the NOAA Scientific Integrity Office that announces the availability of the draft Procedural Handbook to accompany NOAA Administrative Order 202–735D, the scientific integrity policy, for public comment. The draft procedural handbook provides revised NOAA procedures to respond to allegations of scientific and research misconduct. Comments on the draft Procedural Handbook must be received by August 29, 2016. The draft Procedural Handbook is available on the NOAA Scientific Integrity Commons Web site at:

Click here to read NOAA’s Federal Register notice of this action. The notice contains links and more detail.

IAGC Press Release on Arctic Drilling Rules

The International Association of Geophysical Contractors has published the follow press release on the Department of Interiors’ recently published arctic drilling rules:

“Last week the Obama administration released yet another regulation intended to undermine the viability of the offshore oil and gas industry in the United States. On July 7, the Department of Interior announced its new rules for drilling offshore in Alaska. For the first time ever, the administration decided to create special rules for Alaska, more onerous than the rules that apply to offshore production in the rest of the country. No accidents or incidents have occurred to warrant these new aggressive rules, but then for a regulator when it comes to regulation, there never seems to be a need to ask why.