BIMCO informed that IMO is going to shed its focus on underwater radiated noise that has a devastating impact on fish and whale populations, during a series of meeting starting on January 17th. The aim is to agree on a mitigation plan in order to minimize the short and long-term effects on marine life.
Over the past years concerns have emerged that a significant portion of the underwater ambient noise comes from commercial shipping. BIMCO recognises the importance of the issue, mentioning that it is ‘quite complex’ as many factors must be considered in the quest to take the correct mitigating action.
Careful consideration should be given to avoid implications with other environmental regulations, particularly with regard to the greenhouse gasses reduction (GHG) regulations such as the energy efficiency design index (EEDI) and the like
…saidJeppe Skovbakke Juhl, Manager, Maritime Safety & Security at BIMCO.
“A specific example demonstrates that some energy saving measures such as optimising the propeller design (expanding the blade area) may limit the radiated underwater noise but be counter-productive when it comes to GHG reduction,” Juhl said.
BIMCO therefore emphasise that when underwater noise reduction measures are considered, their impact on GHG emissions should be carefully taken into account.
The IMO has not been able to set targets for underwater sound levels because further research is needed on noise measurement methodologies. Therefore, according to Juhl, an important next step should be to focus on common procedures for measuring and determining what criteria should apply to limiting noise emissions, their frequency ranges, and in which geographical areas they should apply. Classification societies have already investigated the alignment of all the various standards of individual societies.
The industry should also aim for global rather than national regulations which should still allow for regional safeguarding in areas that need special protection.
If individual states need to establish local thresholds in certain areas to limit the underwater noise, they should do this through the IMO’s Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSA) regime rather than implementing the special noise-reduction measures unilaterally
he stated, highlighting that IMO guidelines on underwater noise should be made mandatory internationally. This would allow everyone to implement special devices when building ships to lower the noise in general while maintaining the option to use those guidelines to apply for special measures where needed.