New UK research measures underwater noise in marine environment

14 November 2016 (Last Updated November 14th, 2016 18:30)

New research conducted by the UK’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), along with Marine Scotland Science and the University of Exeter has analysed and measured underwater noise data from subsea sound recorders located around the UK coast.

New research conducted by the UK’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), along with Marine Scotland Science and the University of Exeter has analysed and measured underwater noise data from subsea sound recorders located around the UK coast.

Financed by the UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), the study showed that various underwater sites around the UK coast were exposed to constant noise from shipping traffic.

However, the study found several other sites in a relatively peaceful state.

"Ongoing noise monitoring at these sites will allow us to see whether efforts to reduce noise pollution are effective."

Besides shipping noise, other sounds from onshore industrial activities, fishing, and acoustic deterrent devices were discovered during the research.

The newly conducted study is expected to help with the formation of the UK’s policy on underwater noise pollution.

It will also act as the basis of the UK assessment of underwater noise under the European Union’s (EU) marine strategy framework directive (MSFD), which assesses the status of European seas.

Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science principal scientist Dr Nathan Merchant said: “This is the first time we have had an overview of noise levels around the UK, which means we now have a benchmark against which to measure future changes in noise pollution.

“Ongoing noise monitoring at these sites will allow us to see whether efforts to reduce noise pollution are effective, and if the pressure on marine ecosystems from manmade noise is rising or falling.”

Currently, Cefas is partnering with various UK universities to establish a permanent noise monitoring network that expects to become operational by next year.

It is noted that increasing levels of underwater noise pollution across the globe could impact on marine life by interfering with communication as well as causing changes in behaviour, and raising stress levels.