67th Conference of the IWC September 10th-14th, in Florianópolis, Brazil

Florianópolis, Brazil, 12th September 2018. On the third day of the Meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the Member States adopted a Resolution that addresses the threat posed to cetaceans by anthropogenic noise by consensus. It positions the IWC as a complementary and expert body for cetacean species into the melange of Multilateral-Environmental Agreements and the wider UN system.

With the adopted Resolution, the IWC, in particular via its Conservation Committee (which is tasked to develop a concrete work plan on anthropogenic noise) and the Scientific Committee, positions itself as an expert body which can play a significant role in contributing management advice to take appropriate measures to prevent impacts of noise-generating activities on whales and dolphins and their environment.

“Whales and dolphins live in a world of sound. Today’s decision is another clear call to turn down the volume in the world’s oceans which we have made a hell of a noisy place. There are various best practice examples out there to improve the situation. Various sectors, such as shipping and oil and gas exploration have already adopted measures, including the establishment of quiet-zones, which should be followed. But, again, it needs the will of countries to bring about change”, says Nicolas Entrup, spokesperson of OceanCare at the IWC Meeting.

These days, OceanCare is also present with experts at the ongoing UN negotiations in New York towards a new Treaty to safeguard marine biodiversity in the high seas. There is a strong call for noise pollution to be addressed in such a new treaty, as it is a severe transboundary threat. OceanCare’s work in various international fora promoting concrete measures to be taken in the world’s oceans include:

  • States to apply the precautionary principle and take immediate action to mitigate the pressure of underwater noise pollution, through, inter alia, quieting measures.
  • Identify and set noise exclusion zones and alternative shipping routes, including the designation of noise buffer zones around sensitive habitat
  • States to apply robust, comprehensive and transparent Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) prior to permitting noise-generating activities and here-bye implement the EIA Guidelines as agreed by the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species
  • Promote the implementation of port policies imposing noise, speed and emission reduction measures on shipping and States to impose the ship quieting guidelines of the International Maritime Organization (IMO)

OceanCare is represented at the IWC conference in Florianópolis by Nicolas Entrup, Thomas Schweiger and Fabienne McLellan.