NMFS Continues to Use 160/180/190 dB Standards for Navy Airguns in the Atlantic

On December 4, 2013, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service published Federal Register notice of NMFS’ final regulations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act governing the unintentional taking of marine mammals incidental to training and testing activities conducted in the Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing Study Area from November 2013 through November 2018.  These rules make some changes in sonar and explosives regulation, but for seismic airguns they continue to use 160, 180 and 190 dB as the regulatory thresholds, depending on species and type of effect.

In its Federal Register notice, NMFS states:

“NMFS is currently in the process of re-evaluating acoustic thresholds based on the best available science, as well as how these thresholds are applied under the MMPA to all activity types (not just for Navy activities). This re-evaluation could potentially result in changes to the acoustic thresholds or their application as they apply to future Navy activities. However, it is important to note that while changes in acoustic criteria may affect the enumeration of ‘takes,’ they do not necessarily change the evaluation of population level effects or the outcome of the negligible impact analysis.”

Click here to read NMFS’ Federal Register notice.



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