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NEW Future Science Brief: Addressing underwater noise in Europe: Current state of knowledge and future priorities

EMB Future Science Brief N°7 outlines the current state of our knowledge on the sources of anthropogenic sounds and the effects of noise on marine organisms. Moreover, it provides an overview of the measures that have been taken to address the issue of underwater noise. In order to develop proportionate mitigation strategies and effective regulation, we have to advance our knowledge about the effects of anthropogenic noise on marine organisms and their ecosystems.

Today EMB launches its Future Science Brief N°7 Addressing underwater noise in Europe: Current state of knowledge and future priorities. Since EMB’s Position Paper N°13 The Effects of anthropogenic sound on marine mammals: A draft research strategy, published in 2008, both research and regulations in this field have advanced significantly. In order to provide an update, Future Science Brief N°7 broadens the scope beyond marine mammals to also include fishes and invertebrates, and outlines key developments in policy and research that have taken place since the Position Paper’s publication.

The Ocean soundscape is filled with natural and anthropogenic sounds. Natural sounds include those generated by a wide range of marine organisms, waves, rain, wind, and seabed movement, while sounds from human activity at sea include shipping and other marine craft, construction and installations, sonar and seismic surveys. As marine organisms heavily rely on sound to communicate and understand the world around them, anthropogenic sound could interfere with and have an impact on these marine organisms. However, some of the external sources of noise are sometimes unavoidable when developing our Blue Economy and for research activities that advance our knowledge of marine environments and ecosystems. Understanding the potential effects of anthropogenic noise is therefore necessary in order to develop proportionate mitigation strategies and effective regulation.

This publication presents the state-of-the-art in our understanding of underwater sound sources and the impacts of sound on marine organisms. It describes current underwater noise management and mitigation approaches. The publication then highlights the priority areas for further research addressing the remaining knowledge gaps about the effects of anthropogenic noise. Furthermore, it points out the relevant actions needed to take in order to ensure ecosystem-based and precautionary legislation.

The Future Science Brief N°7 can be downloaded here and its accompanying factsheet here.

This publication was developed by the EMB working group on underwater noise. To find out more about the working group and our work on underwater noise, click here.