BOEM Announces New Center of Marine Acoustics

The ocean is vast and full of sounds. Many are naturally occurring while others are anthropogenic (man-made). When these anthropogenic sounds are unwanted, we call them noise. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) manages energy and mineral resource development on the Outer Continental Shelf subject to environmental safeguards, and noise is high on the list of issues we need to understand and address to protect ocean life.

Scientific research and applications on sound are a long-term priority for the bureau and its stakeholders, including federal partners, the industries we regulate, the research community, environmental NGOs, and the public. BOEM has invested more than $95 million in protected species and acoustics-related research since 1998, and this research and our engagement in environmental reviews have significantly improved scientific understanding of how anthropogenic noise affects marine life.

2 CMA Logo 10SEPBut BOEM want to do more, and that's why Dr. William Y. Brown is pleased to announce the creation of BOEM’s Center for Marine Acoustics in this month’s Science Note.

The Center for Marine Acoustics (CMA) is an initiative that will strengthen BOEM’s role as a driving force within the regulatory community on sound in the marine environment. Staffed by highly skilled and knowledgeable acoustics and modeling experts, the CMA will address both naturally occurring sounds and sounds generated by the industrial activities that they regulate, including offshore oil and gas, renewable energy, and marine minerals development. The CMA will augment and focus their marine acoustics expertise on cutting-edge research and applications, including studies of sound source impacts and customized underwater acoustic impact models to inform agency decision-making. It will make sure BOEM is fast, nimble, and forward-thinking on marine acoustics.

3 BOEMlogoMost important, it’s expected that the CMA will establish BOEM as a trusted voice on marine acoustics. This includes being a trusted source for research to understand the biological impacts of machine-made sound, models for characterizing impacts, and standards for drawing the line between what levels of noise are acceptable and what levels are not. BOEM expects that every person and organization with concerns about ocean noise will come to trust and rely on the CMA for accurate, dependable, transparent, and scientifically rigorous data and information on acoustics.

Dr. Jill Lewandowski, the CMA Director and Chief of BOEM’s Division of Environmental Assessment, and Dr. William Y. Brown, BOEM Chief Environmental Officer, are excited to share this new development and encourage you to learn more about the new CMA and what has already been accomplished.