From 18th to 22nd of June, 2018, an advisory expert body to the United Nations General Assembly convened in New York to discuss threats to the oceans posed by underwater noise. Their report is now being transmitted to the General Assembly.

Sigrid Lüber, president of international marine conservation organisation OceanCare, had been the first to address this issue with the UN in 2004, and now headed a delegation of six experts. Nicolas Entrup, part of the team, gave a talk about potential socioeconomic impacts of anthropogenic noise. In the run-up to the meeting, Dr. Linda Weilgart, Dalhousie University, evaluated all available scientific literature on the impact of noise on fish and marine invertebrates for a report commissioned by OceanCare. The findings of this report ring the alarm bells for urgent conservation measures.

Two news agencies – Agence France Presse (AFP) and Austrian Press Agency (APA) – featured reports about the outcome of the conference:

These are some of the main conclusions of the meeting:

  1. Underwater noise acknowledged as a form of marine noise pollution.
  2. Socio-economic impacts of activities emitting noise into the ocean shall be investigated.
  3. Call on the international community to implement the guidelines developed by two conventions within the UN framework – the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) – on environmental impact assessments prior to noise-generating activities and on reducing underwater noise from commercial shipping.
  4. Call on countries to adopt regulations which create incentives for the development of noise reducing technologies.