EU Member States are required taking action for Underwater Noise

The 7th issue of Science for Environment Policy is dedicated to Underwater Noise.

Underwater noise is included among the descriptors for Good Environmental Status (GES) according to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD),” Descriptor 11: Introduction of energy, including underwater noise”.

Underwater noise sources such as shipping, energy production, fishing and tourism have been identified to have an effect in the marine environment. Impacts in marine mammals and fish range from permanent physical damage to temporary habitat displacement. The MSFD will soon require EU Member States to have strategies in place for monitoring and, where necessary, mitigating underwater noise.

In this issue of Science for Environment Policy, the time limits and the collaboration necessity between EU Member States to record underwater noise levels and also take measures to achieve GES, as defined in Descriptor 11, is underlined. Specifically EU Member States will need to define potentially harmful levels of underwater sound, enable monitoring systems (by 2014) and take measures (by 2015) that will be needed if underwater sound must be reduced.

In this regard PERSEUS, at the beginning of 2013, has identified knowledge gaps (view Fact Sheet 1) among the GES Descriptors in 5 EU Member States in the Mediterranean and Black Sea (based on data availability at the time of the study). Descriptor 11 is unfortunately ranked on the top of the “High Gap Scores” in knowledge (along with Descriptor 7: Hydrographical Conditions). This shows that some EU Member States will require a lot of effort in order not to exceed the MSFD time limits.

Furthermore PERSEUS included “Underwater Noise” as environmental risk selected for adaptive policy framework in case studies to be conducted in Western, Central and Eastern Mediterranean basin (view Fact Sheet 3).