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Can Marine Spatial Planning effectively mitigate the impacts of underwater noise?

In a new paper published this week in the journal Marine Policy, SATURN researchers from CNR-ISMAR and Quiet-Oceans reviewed both adopted and soon-to-be-implemented marine spatial plans in Europe to determine their effectiveness at mitigating the impacts of underwater noise.


Sound is essential for marine life and, as anthropogenic noise in the marine environment increases, the scientific community becomes more aware of its negative impacts on marine organisms. Noise travels long distances underwater, including across national boundaries and jurisdictions and impacts a variety of mobile species. Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) represents a useful methodology and policy framework to manage noise-producing human activities with an ecosystem-based approach. This paper provides a picture of the current situation regarding the role of MSP in addressing underwater noise across a sample of 11 countries in Europe. A thorough analysis of their marine plans and related materials is carried out and validated through interviews with the relevant MSP experts. A vision is proposed for the potential synergies between MSP and underwater noise, defining a two-way relationship between the noise community (e.g., scientists, engineers, consultants, operators, authorities) and marine planners. This type of analysis is timely both from an MSP and an underwater noise perspective. Most EU countries have now released their MSP plans following the 2021 deadline of the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive (2014) and a new phase of MSP is approaching, which will attempt to fill the gaps left by the current cycle and introduce substantial improvements. Moreover, thanks to the contributions from the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and its Technical Group on Underwater Noise (TG-Noise), quantitative rules to evaluate noise status and impacts are being defined, while a number of research projects continuously produces new and highly relevant knowledge.

Read the article here from Sofia Bosi, Emiliano Ramieri, Marta Picciulin, Stefano Menegon, Michol Ghezzo, Antonio Petrizzo, Thomas Folegot, Fantina Madricardo, Andrea Barbanti:

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