SAN FRANCISCO (April 3, 2014) — After five years of intensive coalition work, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) today released voluntary guidelines intended to reduce underwater noise from commercial ships globally. Ocean noise has been a growing problem for the world’s whales, dolphins and marine mammals as increased shipping traffic and other factors have impeded the animals’ ability to communicate, avoid predators, find mates and maintain their awareness in the darkness of the sea. The Natural Resources Defense Council partnered with U.S. government agencies (including NOAA and the Coast Guard), industry and researchers on putting noise-quieting on the IMO’s work agenda, and then shepherding the guidelines through approval.
Following is a statement from Michael Jasny, director of NRDC's Marine Mammal Protection Project:
“These standards could help make international waters a quieter, safer, friendlier place for the whales and sea creatures of the world. It’s a noisy neighborhood right now, with dire consequences for marine mammals that face hearing loss and long-term behavioral changes if actions aren’t taken to quiet things down quickly. The IMO is taking important steps and we will work with shippers to help quiet the underwater din.”
NRDC and Pierce Brosnan recently collaborated on a short documentary looking at the issue of our cacophonous oceans: http://www.nrdc.org/wildlife/marine/sonarvideo/video.asp
Today’s announcement caps a busy week on the marine mammal front:
- On Monday, the International Court of Justice shot down Japanese whaling efforts in the Antarctic: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/tkiekow/japans_whaling_harpooned_by_th.html
- On Tuesday, the US censured Iceland for their whaling operations: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/tkiekow/us_censures_iceland_for_its_wh.html
- On Wednesday, the US Navy was implicated in a mass stranding of Cuvier’s beaked whales off the coast of Crete: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/mjasny/us_navy_implicated_in_new_mass.html