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Center for Marine Acoustics

A Trusted Voice on Marine Acoustics Issues

Understanding the complexity of ocean sound - specifically the impacts of man-made sound on marine life - has been a decades-long priority for BOEM and its predecessor agencies. The task is vitally important to our stakeholders, including the industries we regulate, other federal partners, the research community, and the general public. BOEM has invested more than $95 million on protected species and acoustics-related research since 1998, relying on specialists in marine biology, ecology, and acoustics to produce, evaluate, and incorporate the best available science into our management decisions. This research and BOEM’s engagement in environmental reviews has significantly improved scientific understanding of how anthropogenic noise affects marine life.

Marine acoustics issues have increased in national and international significance over the last several decades. As a result, the bureau’s studies and environmental risk assessment work have expanded to consider a wider variety of marine species, such as marine mammals, turtles, fishes, and invertebrates, as well as more sound sources. Potentially impactful sound sources are used across BOEM’s programs and at all stages of development, including:

  • Seismic surveys
  • Site assessments for offshore wind
  • Pile driving
  • Dredging
  • Drilling
  • Vessel and helicopter operation
  • Explosive removal of platforms

Understanding the science of marine acoustics and its policy applications requires highly specialized knowledge and experience in physics and bioacoustics (how animals use and are affected by sound). To answer the call, BOEM launched the Center for Marine Acoustics (CMA) in 2020 to build its expertise, strengthening the Bureau’s role in managing and understanding underwater sound. The CMA provides expertise and leadership to drive best practices, expand research on underwater sound, seek policy improvements, and improve messaging related to marine acoustic issues. We will push for innovation while championing consistency, high scientific rigor, and efficiency where needed. The CMA’s products and services will support environmental assessment work across all of BOEM’s program areas. The CMA will work hand in hand with BOEM’s Environmental Studies Program to identify and fill priority data gaps to improve BOEM’s decision-making. We will partner strategically with external organizations to achieve what cannot be done alone. The Center establishes BOEM as a driving force within the regulatory community, positioning BOEM as a recognized leader on marine acoustics within the federal government and internationally.


BOEM and Marine Acoustics


Since 1998, BOEM has invested more than $95 million on protected species and acoustics related research.

 

Science for understanding and managing marine sound has been a decades-long priority for BOEM and its predecessor agencies, including work to characterize human-produced sound and address its impacts. The task is vitally important to our stakeholders, including federal partners, the industries we regulate, the research community, environmental NGOs and the general public.

We have invested more than $95 million on protected species and acoustics related research since 1998, relying on specialists in marine biology, ecology and acoustics to produce, evaluate and incorporate the best available science into our management decisions. This research and BOEM’s engagement in environmental reviews has significantly improved scientific understanding of how anthropogenic noise affects marine life.


Answering the Call: BOEM’s Center for Marine Acoustics

Fast, Flexible and Forward Thinking

“The Center for Marine Acoustics will create a streamlined approach to BOEM’s acoustic studies and modeling efforts. It will enable us to study sound source impacts and develop customized underwater acoustic impact models as needed to inform our decision-making. With the Center in place, BOEM will be fast, flexible and forward-thinking on marine acoustics issues.”

-- Dr. Jill Lewandowski,
BOEM Environmental Assessment Division Chief

BOEM’s Center for Marine Acoustics (CMA or the Center) is an initiative designed to strengthen the bureau’s role as a driving force within the regulatory community on sound in the marine environment. It concentrates BOEM’s marine acoustics expertise, leading-edge knowledge and resources to attain and sustain world-class performance and value.

Staffed by highly skilled and knowledgeable acoustics and modeling experts, the Center addresses both naturally occurring sounds and those generated by industrial activities that BOEM regulates, including offshore oil and gas, renewable energy and marine minerals.

The Center:

  • Drives best practices, research, scientific rigor and policy improvements on marine acoustics issues through its expertise and leadership.
  • Encourages innovation while championing consistency, standardization and efficiency where needed.
  • Informs BOEM’s environmental assessment efforts, including National Environmental Policy Act documents and Endangered Species Act consultations.
  • Infuses improved technical information into policy decisions.
  • Drives improvements in BOEM’s environmental decision-making by working with BOEM’s Environmental Studies Program to identify and fill priority data gaps.
  • Helps stakeholders better understand the effects of marine sound.
  • Partners strategically with external organizations to achieve what cannot be done alone. The Center positions BOEM to become a proactive leader in managing the issues it regulates and become a recognized leader on marine acoustics within the federal government and internationally.

Why Acoustics and Why Now?

What Does It Mean to Be a Trusted Voice?

“Being a trusted voice on marine acoustics issues means that the public, other agencies, our stakeholders and partners can rely on the CMA to provide accurate, dependable and transparent data and information on acoustics. Establishing this trust in the CMA’s efforts will help BOEM become a leader among regulatory agencies on marine acoustics.”

-- Dr. Bill Brown,
BOEM Chief Environmental Officer

In recent years, the bureau’s studies and environmental risk assessment work have expanded to consider a variety of noise sources and impacts to marine species, such as marine mammals, fish and invertebrates, evolving as marine acoustics issues have increased in national and international significance.

Marine noise and its potential impacts affect BOEM’s offshore energy and mineral resource responsibilities in all offshore areas and at all stages of development, including:

  • Seismic surveys
  • Pile driving
  • Dredging
  • Drilling
  • Vessel and helicopter operation
  • Explosive removal of platforms

Understanding marine acoustics science and its policy applications requires highly specialized knowledge and experience in physics and bioacoustics (how animals use and are affected by sound). The CMA provides BOEM with the modeling and bioacoustics expertise needed for the job.

The CMA actively works to identify issues, deficiencies and opportunities to improve or expand on ocean research and offshore regulatory decisions as they pertain to marine acoustics. The following are some of the CMA's Recent Work.


Contact Us at boemacoustics@boem.gov