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Peer Review Plans

Title and Description:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing: Acoustic Threshold Levels for Onset of Permanent and Temporary Threshold Shifts

NMFS has developed draft technical guidance for assessing the effects of anthropogenic sound on marine mammal species under NMFS's jurisdiction. The technical guidance provides updated received levels, or acoustic threshold levels, based on the best available science, above which individual marine mammals are predicted to experience changes in their hearing sensitivity (either temporary or permanent) for all underwater anthropogenic sound sources. This guidance is intended to be used by NMFS analysts and managers and other relevant user groups and stakeholders, including other federal agencies, when seeking to determine whether and how their activities are expected to result in particular types of impacts to marine mammals via acoustic exposure. Although NMFS has updated the acoustic threshold levels from those previously used, and these changes may necessitate new methodologies for calculating impacts, the application of the thresholds in the regulatory context under applicable statutes (Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act) remains consistent with past NMFS practice.

Behavioral threshold levels were originally included in the draft guidance and reviewed by the peer reviewers. NMFS is continuing our examination of the effects of noise on marine mammal behavior and will focus our work over the next year on developing guidance regarding the effects of anthropogenic sound on marine mammal behavior. Behavioral response is a complex question and we determined we still need time to research and address it appropriately. Behavioral guidance will have a separate peer review plan (see ID 274).

For their Phase 3 Acoustic Effects Analysis, the U.S. Navy SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific, specifically Dr. James Finneran, provided NMFS with a technical paper describing their proposed methodology for updating auditory weighting functions and subsequent numeric thresholds for predicting auditory effects (TTS/PTS thresholds) on marine animals exposed to active sonars and other active acoustic sources utilized during Navy training and testing activities (January 2015).
Upon evaluation, NMFS preliminarily determined that the Navy's proposed methodology reflected the best available science and would work to incorporate it into the NMFS Technical Guidance before it becomes final. Before doing so, NMFS commissioned an independent peer review of the Navy's technical paper (i.e., second peer review).
Additionally, NMFS re-evaluated its methods for defining threshold usage for sources characterized as impulsive or non-impulsive using comments from the initial public comment period. This proposed methodology also underwent a separate independent peer review (i.e. third peer review). Following these two peer reviews, NMFS held a second public comment period (July-September 2015).
After the second public comment period, while NMFS was working to address additional public comments and finalize the Technical Guidance, NMFS and the Navy further evaluated certain aspects of the U.S. Navy's methodology. As a result, several recommendations/modifications were suggested.

After consideration of these recommendations, NMFS revised the Draft Technical Guidance to reflect these suggested changes and is proposing to solicit public comment on the revised sections of the document (i.e., not the entire document) via a focused 14-day public comment period (March 2016). Concurrent with this third public comment period, NMFS requested that the peer reviewers of the Navy's methodology review the updated sections of the Draft Technical Guidance and indicate whether the revisions would significantly alter any of the comments made during their original review.

Final Technical Guidance is published as a NOAA Technical Memorandum.


ID: 43 Info. Type:  HISA
Estimated Initial Dissemination Date: 12/31/2014
Actual Initial Dissemination Date (because behavioral portion separated out): 2/4/2014
Estimated and Actual Second Dissemination Date: 6/1/2015
Estimated and Actual Third Dissemination Date: 7/31/2015
Estimated and Actual Disseminiation of Peer Review Report as follow-up to second review: 5/20/2016
Estimated Dissemination Date of Final Work Product: 531/2016
Actual Dissemination Date of Final Work Product: 8/3/2016

2018 Revised Technical Guidance:

Contact Person:Michael Liddel   NOAA Locator

Date First Posted in Peer Review Agenda:  12/16/2005

Estimated Peer Review Start Date: 7/5/2013 (first), 3/16/15 (second), 4/14/15 (third) 3/16/16 (fourth)
Review type:  individual letters
Expected number of peer reviewers:  4-10
Peer reviewers will be selected by:  a designated outside agency. The Marine Mammal Commission nominated peer reviewers for the initial and second peer review. The Acoustical Society of America's Underwater Acoustics Technical Council nominated peer reviewers for the third peer review.

Will the public, including scientific or professional societies, be asked to nominate potential peer reviewers? 
The Marine Mammal Commission nominated peer reviewers.

Will there be opportunities for the public to comment on the work product to be peer reviewed?  yes

How and when? Initial peer review: There was a 45 day public comment period that opened December 27,
2013 and closed March 13, 2014. Additionally, there was a public meeting/webinar held in
Silver Spring, Maryland on January 14, 2014. Second and third peer review: There was a
second 30-day public comment period held subsequent to both peer reviews (July
2015-September 2015). Follow-up to second peer review: Follow-up will occur concurrently
to third 14-day public comment period (March 2016).

Will the agency provide significant and relevant public comments to the peer reviewers before they conduct their review? no

Primary disciplines or expertise needed in the review:Initial peer review: Reviewers had expertise in acoustics, acoustics in the marine environment, acoustic ecology, behavior, and marine mammal hearing. Second peer review: marine mammal hearing and/or noise-induced hearing loss. Third peer review: Sound propagation and physical and operational source characteristics for impulsive sound sources (i.e., high explosives, seismic airguns, and impact pile drivers).

Comments on Peer Review:

The charge statement, peer review nomiations and reviewer credentials for the initial peer review

Initial Peer review report

Letter to second set of peer reviewers

Second peer review CVs, charge statements and peer review report:

Au: CV, charge statement

LePrell: CV, charge statement

Lucke: CV, charge statement

Terhune: CV, charge statement

Second peer review report

Third peer review CVs, charge statements and peer review report:

Burkard: CV, charge statement

Dahl: CV, charge statement

Reichmuth: CV, charge statement

Williams: CV, charge statement

Third peer review report

Follow-up to second review: charge statements

Au charge

LePrell charge

Lucke charge

Terhune charge

Follow-up to second review - Peer Review Report

Final work product