10 step blueprint against ocean noise

10 demands for more silent oceans

OceanCare and its Silent Oceans partner organisations demand that politicians and all relevant bodies adopt a responsible approach to ocean habitats. Scientific information on the impact of noise on marine animals, and the need to protect endangered species, must be better respected. For this reason we have developed a ten-step blueprint to curb ocean noise pollution globally.

 

  1. Ocean noise pollution must be recognised and tackled as a serious problem by the UN General Assembly, regional institutions, multilateral environmental agreements and organisations as well as national lawmakers.
  1. To reduce and regulate ocean noise pollution, a binding global strategy must be mapped. This may include compulsory environmental impact assessments prior to noise-intensive activities, the application of the precautionary principle, the development of effective and binding guidelines on noise reduction, as well as the creation of biosphere reserves, UNESCO World Heritage marine sites and other protected areas.
  1. Up to now less than 2% of the world’s oceans have been designated as protected areas. Further protected areas for marine mammals and marine biodiversity are urgently needed.
  1. An international threshold on ocean noise must be established. Noise levels in the oceans should be monitored, e.g., by establishing a noise register, and their environmental impact studied. For particularly sensitive zones, noise budgets must be developed and checked to ensure that the established noise thresholds are not exceeded.
  1. Seismic surveys for oil and gas deposits, and extraction itself, must be banned from sensitive habitats. Deepwater drilling must not be allowed in the Mediterranean as a matter of principle.
  1. Navies should train solely in areas that are scientifically established to be ocean deserts, far away from areas with a rich variety of marine species.
  1. Governments should stipulate the development and use of alternative technologies for oil and gas exploration. All technologies that extract renewable energy from the sea, some of which can cover thousands of square kilometres, must also be checked independently for their environmental impact. In cases of uncertainty, the precautionary principle must be applied to ensure that ocean noise levels are not harmful to marine life.
  1. Shipping must be required to develop quieter engines and improve ship design in order to reduce noise output. Noise emissions from all types of ship need to be measured and their impact on the marine environment investigated.
  1. Those responsible for ocean noise emissions must be held accountable for the environmental impacts they cause.
  1. Since ocean noise pollution has a negative impact on fish, food security for both animals and people must be better considered as part of efforts to regulate ocean noise.