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Creating a noise monitoring system in the North Sea

We are working on a European project to better understand noise and its effect on marine life in the North Sea

The need

Activity in the North Sea is increasing, from fishing and increased cargo shipping to military activity and the construction of offshore wind farms. More human activity means more anthropogenic noise and there is concern about the impact of such sound has on marine animal life.

To address this, the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive states the need to monitor the underwater environment, but for that to happen new tools are needed to evaluate underwater noise, including a set of agreed standards.

The impact

NPL is one of the partners in a European project called the Joint Monitoring Programme for Ambient Noise North Sea (JOMOPANS). This aims to develop a framework for a fully operational joint monitoring programme for ambient noise in the North Sea.

JOMOPANS will provide the critical tools necessary for managers, planners and other stakeholders to incorporate the effects of ambient noise in their assessment of the environmental status of the North Sea, and to evaluate measures to improve the environment.

At this moment, there are no international standards for monitoring ambient noise in the ocean. Our role at NPL is to address this by developing standard underwater noise monitoring procedures suitable for the North Sea Region, to ensure that all partners use a common approach and the data obtained within the project are comparable.

As part of this, we will also consider standard methodologies under development in other monitoring projects, and the standards developed in this project will be publicised such that they may be adopted by other projects, where appropriate. Ultimately, the standards developed here may feed into the basis of standards work undertaken in ISO.