A. Seismic survey vessel towing an air gun array
B. Construction of an offshore wind turbine
C. Installing a wind turbine by pile driving 
D. Vessel transporting a wind turbine offshore

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is organizing a workshop where government, industry, non-governmental (NGO), and academic experts from the United States and several countries will examine quieting technologies to reduce the impacts of noise generated during offshore exploratory seismic surveys, pile driving and the vessels associated with these activities. Potential alternative technologies to traditional air gun use will also be discussed.

Results from the workshop will provide a better understanding of the acoustic characteristics of the alternative technologies including sound propagation, their operational requirements and limitations to their use, their potential impacts on the environment, and any further steps and time needed for their development. Additionally, the quality and economic value of the data collected using these alternative sources will be compared to the quality and economic value of the data collected from current acoustic sources.

Ultimately, this will provide BOEM and other regulatory agencies with information needed to determine the usefulness and appropriateness of these alternative and quieting technologies for mitigation and monitoring to lower the overall sound introduced into the water. BOEM will incorporate this information into its compliance efforts related to the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservations Management Act, as well as other statues.

Goals of the Workshop include:

  • Review and examine recent developments (existing, emerging, and potential) in quieting technologies for:
    -Seismic surveying, whether proposed or in development;
    -Pile driving during offshore renewable energy activities; and
    -Vessel noise associated with OCS energy development activities.
  • Identify the requirements for operation and limitations for using these technologies;
  • Evaluate data quality and cost-effectiveness of these technologies as compared to that from existing marine acoustic technologies;
  • Identify the acoustic characteristics of new technologies in varying environments compared to that from existing technologies;
  • Examine potential environmental impacts from these technologies;
  • Identify which technologies, if any, provide the most promise for full or partial traditional use and specify the conditions that might warrant their use (e.g., specific limitations to water depth, use in Marine Protected Areas, etc.); and
  • Identify next steps, if appropriate, for the further development of these technologies, including potential incentives for field testing.