First, we must extend fledgling efforts to fully comprehend the acoustic footprint of our offshore and coastal activities. As a nation, we are failing the oceans by lacking a sufficiently effective program for listening to them.

The U.S. should develop and maintain dedicated undersea acoustic monitoring networks as integral parts of ocean observing systems. This would be lead by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and enabled through private and academic partnerships. Such a plan has been developed; now it should be implemented.

Second, we should encourage and accelerate the development of noise-reduction technologies. Thanks to proactive collaborations among industries, scientists, environmentalists and government officials, efforts are underway within the U.N.’s International Maritime Organization to develop quieting technologies for the most pervasive global noise source: large commercial ships. These and related technologies for reducing noise in oil exploration and marine construction should be standardized.

Finally, federal regulation on ocean noise must be changed. For decades, regulators have focused entirely on the short-term effects of one action at a time. A more holistic and biologically relevant risk assessment system, centered on the concepts of ocean acoustic habitats and ecosystems, is sorely needed. Emerging trends in marine spatial planning are encouraging signs, as is NOAA’s support of two groups that are developing geospatial tools for mapping underwater noise and marine mammal distributions in U.S. waters.

Source and more: