12 step blueprint against ocean noise
12 demands for more silent oceans
Oceans are our oxygen. They feed us with fish, shellfish and seaweed. Their waters cover over 70 per
cent of the Earth‘s surface. This vast environment is home to a broader range of higher animal taxa than
exist on land. Most ocean species rely on sound for their vital life functions, including communication,
orientation, prey and predator detection, and for sensing surroundings. Yet, levels of noise in the ocean
have doubled in some regions, every decade for the past 60 years. Increasing ocean noise (anthropogenic
underwater noise) is a trend now threatening many ocean species and populations. The industries
generating this noise need to be held more accountable for the impact they create.
OceanCare proposes twelve important actions for governments to embrace to reduce this alarming trend:
1. Include specific language in the United Nations General Assembly Oceans Resolution, Sustainable
Fisheries Resolution, and within domestic legislation, to explicitly recognise ocean noise as a serious
and pervasive form of transboundary pollution to be mitigated and addressed.
2. Progress a global strategy that seeks to reverse the trend of rising ocean noise levels.
3. Support the incorporation of measures to manage ocean noise into the new international legally
binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas
beyond national jurisdiction under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
4. Recognise ocean noise as a form of marine pollution to be addressed under Sustainable Development
Goal 14.1 which seeks to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds by 2025.
5. Adopt a precautionary approach, by carefully assessing all future ocean noise-generating activities
and legislating for Best Available Technology and Best Environmental Practice to be used for any
activities given approval.
6. Transpose the International Maritime Organization Ship Quieting Guidelines and the Convention on
Migratory Species Guidelines on Environmental Impact Assessments for Marine Noise-generating
Activities into domestic legislation.
7. Implement monetary and management measures which allow for a transition from fossil fuels.
8. Require robust, comprehensive and transparent Environmental Impact Assessments prior to approval
of applications for noise-generating activities to take place.
9. Ensure regulators and decision-makers have robust, defensible, and impartial information on which
to base their decisions about ocean noise-generating activities.
10. Take into account previous, simultaneous, on-going, and planned activities in the same or adjoining
areas of proposed ocean noise-generating activities to consider potential cumulative or synergistic
impacts, both from other noise and non-noise threats.
11. Establish ‘quiet zones’, using scientific advice contained in Areas of Interest for Important Marine
Mammal Areas and Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas to assist with prioritising
where to focus efforts.
12. Support and encourage the Food and Agriculture Organization to conduct studies on the impacts of
ocean noise on fish, invertebrates and fish catch rates, as well as associated socioeconomic effects.