The ocean bed is disturbed ceaselessly by governments and industries for oil and gas reserves. It had increased noise associated with shipping and high-decibel seismic surveys. Global standards are called for to manage noise pollution in the oceans. A group of experts from eight universities and environmental organizations has responded.
Seismic impulses are the loudest noise undersea caused by humans. Man-made noise interferes with the natural communication of marine life for navigation, seeking food and finding partners. Long-term exposure to noise can lead to hearing damage, chronic stress and potential reproductive problems amongst marine animals.
A paper published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment sets out for international regulation for ocean noise pollution. Measures to limit noise levels in the oceans vary from region to region. As noise from marine seismic surveys is a transbounary and international issue, the scientists have recommended global standards and regulation.
The U.S. Navy had already agreed to limit sonar training and testing off the coasts of Hawaii and Southern California, in order to reduce the harm caused to marine mammals in the area. Currently, only the European Union recognizes sound pollution. Using the empirical data from this monitoring system, scientists could more thoroughly assess surveys’ cumulative long-term impacts on marine life and identify areas where seismic activities or shipping should be prohibited or limited to protect marine wildlife.