Sound provides a powerful tool for studying marine life, ocean dynamics, and human use of marine resources. Passive acoustic technology can be used to non-invasively assess environmental noise levels, surface conditions, human activity, and the distribution and biodiversity of vocalizing marine life. Active acoustic technology provides a high-resolution (in both time and space) measure of biological (zooplankton and fish abundance and distribution) and physical oceanographic processes (internal waves, frontal systems).
Sounds are omnipresent in the underwater environment and can be produced by natural (waves, weather, animals) and anthropogenic (shipping, construction) sources. There is an increasing concern about the possibility of negative effects of anthropogenic underwater sound on marine fauna. The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD: 2008/56/EG) requires all EU Member States (MS) to reach or maintain Good Environmental Status (GES). GES is described in 11 Descriptors and all the MS must set criteria and methodological standards for each Descriptor in their marine strategies.
JONAS aims to address the risks of acoustic pressures on biodiversity focusing on sensitive receptor species in the NE Atlantic by streamlining ocean noise monitoring and risk prediction. Cost effective, risk-based approaches to monitoring and modelling noise across the maritime territories of the Atlantic Arc countries (France, Ireland, Portugal Spain and the UK) will be developed; these will be appropriate to the scale of the area, the levels of anthropogenic pressure, and the susceptibility of receptor species.
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) Ocean Noise Reference Station (NRS) Network was established in partnership with the National Park Service (NPS) to document baseline levels and multi-year trends in ocean ambient sound in 12 discrete environments throughout the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The acoustic communication system of the humpback whale relies on an individual’s ability to maintain contact with conspecifics across various distances. On the Pacific Coast of Colombia, industrial, commercial, and tourist activities that support the livelihood of local communities in Golfo de Tribuga may interfere with many humpback whale contact calls. An increase in anthropogenic noise is projected to occur once international port construction near Buenaventura begins as early as 2019, further inhibiting the whales’ communication ability.
- QUIETSEAS: Assisting (sub) regional cooperation for the practical implementation of the MSFD second cycle by providing methods and tools for D11 (underwater noise) (2021-2023)
QUIETSEAS is a project funded by the DG Environment of the European Commission within the call “DG ENV/MSFD 2020”). This call funds the next phase of Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) implementation.
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Navy are engaged in a multi-year effort to monitor underwater sound within the U.S. National Marine Sanctuary System. The agencies are working with numerous scientific partners to study sound within seven national marine sanctuaries and one marine national monument, which includes waters off the east coast region of the United States (Stellwagen Bank, Gray’s Reef and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuaries), the west coast region (Olympic Coast, Monterey Bay and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuaries) and the Pacific region (Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument). The project is designed to provide standardized baseline information important for contextualizing both how much sound is introduced within these protected areas by specific sources and potential impacts to the areas’ marine taxa and habitats.
SATURN will advance knowledge of acute and cumulative effects of ship noise on water species (fishes, invertebrates and aquatic mammals), develop standards for terminology, metrics and signals, establish a stakeholder group from across the range of relevant disciplines, identify, quantify and validate any negative impacts from shipping and boats, and assess suitable mitigation measures for reducing environmental impact from underwater noise from a policy and commercial perspective.
Maritime authorities in Sweden and Denmark have proposed a rerouting of the main shipping routes into the Baltic, scheduled to be effectuated in 2020. Roughly 80,000 ships pass through Kattegat each year, roughly half of them in the deep water route T through the Great Belt, the other half through the Sound (route D). The rerouting will move the split between the two routes about 100 km to the north, creating a new route S parallel to the Swedish coast and about 20 km east of the existing route T. This creates a unique opportunity to study effects of heavy ship traffic in a shallow sea.