CBD SBSTTA considers the impact of underwater noise on marine biodiversity and habitats
29th May 2012
The CBD Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) has considered a Scientific Synthesis on the Impacts of Underwater Noise on Marine and Coastal Biodiversity and Habitats during the 16th meeting in Montreal, Canada (30th April – 5th May 2012)
The review notes that significant progress has been made in analyzing the impacts of underwater noise on marine and coastal biodiversity, including through initiatives under the Convention on Migratory Species, the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR Convention), the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS), the International Whaling Commission (IWC), and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
CBD was requested to compile and synthesize available scientific information on anthropogenic underwater noise and its impacts on marine and coastal biodiversity and habitats, and to make such information available for consideration at the 16th SBSTTA meeting.
The document consider the following:
1) The underwater world is subject to a wide array of human-made noise from activities such as commercial shipping, oil and gas exploration and the use of various types of sonar.
2) Anthropogenic noise in the marine environment has increased markedly over the last 100 or so years as the human use of the oceans has grown and diversified.
3) Anthropogenic noise has gained recognition as an important stressor for marine life and is now acknowledged as a global issue that needs addressing.
4) Sound is extremely important to many marine animals and plays a key role in communication, navigation, orientation, feeding and the detection of predators.
5) A variety of marine animals are known to be affected by anthropogenic noise.
6) A wide range of effects of increased levels of sound on marine fauna have been documented both in laboratory and field conditions.
7) There are increasing concerns about the long-term and cumulative effects of noise on marine biodiversity
8) Research is required to better understand the impacts of anthropogenic sound on marine
9) There is a need to scale up the level of research and management efforts, to significantly promote greater awareness of the issue and to take measures minimise our noise impacts on marine biodiversity.
10) Effective management of anthropogenic noise in the marine environment should be regarded as a high priority for action at the national and regional level through the use of up to date mitigation measures based on the latest scientific understanding of the issue for marine species and habitats.
11) Mitigation of marine noise in the oceans is in place for industrial and military activities in some regions of the world through the use of measures and guidelines.
12) New challenges such as global changes in ocean parameters (e.g. acidity and temperature) are also likely to have consequences for marine noise levels at a range of geographic scales through changes in sound absorption and the retreat of Arctic sea ice opening up waters for exploration and resource extraction.
At this point the recommendations from the 16th SBSTTA meeting are not yet available. We will report on them as soon as possible. The full review is available through the CBD website