The committee further suggests that consideration be given to a revision in the incidental take provisions of the MMPA to delete references to small numbers of marine mammals. Such a change would allow NMFS or FWS to approve an incidental take authorization for any situation in which predicted effects on individuals and populations were negligible, regardless of the numbers of marine mammals that might be involved. This procedure could, for example, make an incidental take authorization possible in the case of an acoustical oceanography project that would ensonify an area large enough that more than a "small" number of marine mammals might be exposed to significant noise, provided that it could be demonstrated that the effect of the sound on these animals would be negligible. The committee recognizes that changes in the incidental take authorization process might also broaden its application to other types of human activity. However, it seems unreasonable that an exemption from the "take" prohibitions of the MMPA should be available for some human activities, including some that kill many marine mammals, without being available for other human activities whose goal may include the acquisition of information of potential value for the conservation of marine mammals.
Low-Frequency Sound and Marine Mammals: Current Knowledge and Research Needs
Ocean Studies Board (1994). Low-Frequency Sound and Marine Mammals: Current Knowledge and Research Needs. Low-Frequency Sound and Marine Mammals (pp. 23). Washington DC: National Academy Press.