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Exploring spatio-temporal restrictions (STRs) to mitigate the effects of noise on marine mammals: A consideration in the planning of EBSAs? [#426]
The problem of noise in the sea presents uncertainties and challenges related to the workshop discussion on the identification of areas beyond the national jurisdiction, which meet the scientific criteria. It may be that in areas important to marine mammals and other species either sensitive to noise or that use sound to navigate, hunt and communicate that much larger effective areas must be considered as EBSAs. While this is framed largely as a management issue, much depends on the initial identification of the area and its extent, as well as the design and type of EBSA to be planned.
In June 2007, 18 scientists from ten countries met in the Canary Islands to explore the possibility that “spatio-temporal restrictions” (STRs), including various types of protection zones, could be used or expanded to help protect marine mammals and other marine organisms from the damaging noises of low and high frequency Navy sonar, seismic air-gun arrays and the increasing worldwide drone of shipping noise. Background noise in the sea has been increasing by about 3-4 dB per decade since the 1950s, which is in effect a doubling of the noise level every decade. Marine mammals including whales and dolphins use sound to navigate, hunt and communicate, but noise has in effect reduced their habitat by masking their own sounds. In some cases very loud noise has been documented to lead to stranding and death of animals, although it is uncertain how extensive these effects may be.

The group of scientists produced a consensus report with detailed recommendations for adapting exisitng protection zones and adopting a conceptual framework for using STRs to help reduce the ensonification of the world ocean. It is available in English, Spanish and French.

Agardy, T., Aguilar, N., Cañadas, A., Engel, M., Frantzis, A., Hatch, L., Hoyt, E., Kaschner, K., LaBrecque, E., Martin, V., Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., Pavan, G., Servidio, A., Smith, B., Wang, J., Weilgart, L., Wintle, B. and Wright, A. 2007. A Global Scientific Workshop on Spatio-Temporal Management of Noise. Report of the Scientific Workshop. 44pp.
(edited on 2009-08-31 12:33 UTC by Erich Hoyt)
posted on 2009-08-31 12:32 UTC by Erich Hoyt, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS)

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  • United Nations Environment Programme