Addressing Anthropogenic Underwater Noise

The World Maritime University (WMU) and the Dr. Jens-Peter & Betsy Schlüter Foundation, with support of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), co-organized an international symposium on the topic of Anthropogenic Underwater Noise that took place in Hamburg, Germany on 10 September. High-ranking experts from international organizations and academic institutions reported on the topic and engaged in discussions with the participants. The event brought together over 120 participants to address the two main topics of sources and impacts of anthropogenic underwater noise, and international endeavors for reducing measures. 

In her welcome remarks, Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of WMU, highlighted that Goal 14 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals requires the international community and all stakeholders to prevent and reduce marine pollution of all kinds by 2025, including noise pollution. Further, Goal 14 calls for the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in all aspects of the 2030 Agenda. President Doumbia-Henry maintained that these points, along with the IMO treaty regime, are the most appropriate framework for addressing all matters concerning the protection and preservation of the marine environment.

“Life on land and under water is precious to humanity. So let us seize this golden opportunity to design and implement the best strategies for mitigating, reducing and controlling anthropogenic underwater noise. By doing so, the oceans will resonate with sounds of the whales,” stated President Doumbia-Henry. 

Sources of anthropogenic (human-caused) underwater noise include seismic exploration, military and commercial sonars and maritime transportation. Commercial shipping is a significant contributor. Scientists and the international community have identified that noise has short and long-term consequences on marine life in both physical and behavioral changes. In response, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) ratified voluntary guidelines in 2014 to address the adverse impacts of shipping noise. 

The German shipowner Dr. Jens-Peter Schlüter and his wife Betsy established the Schlüter Foundation in 2013 in order to promote shipping in a safe and healthy environment. The Foundation promotes science and research in the area of shipping and environmental protection. Its activities are not limited to issues of ship construction and shipping operation, they cover a cross-dimensional range of shipping-related environmental protection.

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