OceanCare’s call to reduce ocean noise

The ocean is an acoustic world. Sound is vitally important for marine wildlife. When sound becomes noise, it has fatal consequences for marine species and the entire marine ecosystem. Industries causing noise are often the same who have a significantly negative impact on the climate – first and foremost the petroleum industry. But shipping, too, emits underwater noise as well as CO2 and air pollutants.

Thus, implementing OceanCare’s demands would both ensure quieter seas and directly contribute to climate protection.

Key demands by OceanCare

  1. Prohibit any new fossil fuel exploration and exploitation activities in the ocean.
  2. Introduce mandatory speed reduction in shipping to 75% of the design speed.
  3. Create quiet zones – include ocean noise reduction in action plans of marine protected areas and establish buffer zones.
  4. Coherently recognise underwater noise as transboundary marine pollution in all relevant multilateral agreements, national laws and marine conservation frameworks (e.g. BBNJ/UN High Seas Treaty, SDG 14, FAO, fisheries agreements, etc.).
  5. Accord a binding nature to the new IMO guidelines on the reduction of underwater noise from shipping (the guidelines should be available in summer 2023).
  6. Implement mandatory environmental impact assessments in compliance with the CMS guidelines prior to granting licences for noise-generating activities. In case of uncertainty, projects are to be prohibited in accordance with the precautionary principle. This also and particularly applies to energy production within the Blue Economy framework.
  7. Establish reduction of underwater noise as part of marine spatial planning.
  8. Employ the latest noise-reducing technologies and best environmental practice in authorised noise-generating activities.
  9. Apply marine protection measures and environmental impact assessments prior to military manoeuvres.
  10. Enact a moratorium on deep-sea mining.

We need compulsory enforcement and sanctions to increase the efficiency of conservation regulations for quieter seas. OceanCare is paying particular attention to efforts to implement the European Union’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), which provides for a reduction of underwater noise as one of the measures to achieve good environmental status in European seas.