The 80th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), 3-7 July 2023, approved revised Guidelines for the reduction of underwater noise from commercial shipping to address adverse impacts on marine life.
he guidelines, issued as a circular, recognize that commercial shipping is one of the main contributors to underwater radiated noise (URN) which has adverse effects on critical life functions for a wide range of marine life, including marine mammals, fish and invertebrate species, upon which many coastal Indigenous communities depend for their food, livelihoods and cultures.
The updated guidelines:
- Include updated technical knowledge, including reference to international measurement standards, recommendations and classification society rules.
- Provide sample templates to assist shipowners with the development of an underwater radiated noise management plan.
- Provide an overview of approaches applicable to designers, shipbuilders and ship operators to reduce the underwater radiated noise of any given ship.
- They are intended to assist relevant stakeholders in establishing mechanisms and programmes through which noise reduction efforts can be realized.
The previous guidelines were issued in 2014.
The MEPC approved the dissemination of an MEPC circular on Guidelines for underwater radiated noise reduction in Inuit Nunaat and the Arctic, developed by the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC).
The guidelines recognize that Inuit Nunaat is a unique environment and adverse impacts to marine wildlife in this area from shipping noise may be significantly increased as a result. Sound levels throughout Inuit Nunaat are lower than elsewhere, making it more vulnerable to increases from industrial activity.