October 14 marks World Standards Day, a day to celebrate and acknowledge the importance of international measurement standards to research and society. International Standards are essential to underwater noise research, including ISO 18405 on terminology for underwater acoustics, and ISO 17208, which describes the general measurement system, procedure, and methodology used for the measurement of underwater sound from ships. In a 2019 review of the effects of ship noise on marine mammals, however, Christine Erbe et al. highlighted the need for improvement in the quality and consistency of underwater noise research, writing that “standards on study design, data analysis, and reporting are badly needed so that results are comparable (across space and time) and so that data can be synthesized to address the grand unknowns: the role of context and the consequences of chronic exposures.”
In response to this gap, standardisation is woven into all of SATURN's research. Work Package 2 is entirely dedicated to the development of new standards and methods to measure, assess and compare the impacts from underwater noise generated by shipping and boats. Standardisation enables SATURN to ensure data quality and consistency and create solutions, tools, and designs that are fit for purpose and built on robust and sustainable foundations.
SATURN has already begun developing and contributing to the establishment of standards for terminology and methodology to be used across all disciplines working on underwater radiated noise. Last week, SATURN partners from Naval Group, JASCO Applied Sciences, and TNO were part of a workshop to develop a shallow water measurement standard for underwater radiated noise. Standards such as this underpin our research to measure, model, and map underwater radiated noise, ensuring more consistent and reliable assessment of impacts from underwater noise generated by vessels. The standards, methods and standardized test signals developed in the course of the project will be used to assess the impact of URN on representative aquatic species, including pilot whales, harbour seals, migratory fish, and marine invertebrates.
This theme of this year's World Standards Day 2021 is ‘Standards for sustainable development goals- a shared vision for a better future’. SATURN contributes directly to SDG14: Life Below Water, and promotes the decoupling of economic development from environmental degradation. SATURN's aim is to assess mitigation measures that curb underwater noise while contributing to resource-efficient and safe transport. By developing innovative solutions to mitigate noise and strong policy recommendations, we aim to make the European shipping industry more competitive and quieter at the same time. Ultimately, our goal is to benefit the citizens and ecosystems of Europe.
At present, knowledge gaps surrounding the potential impacts of URN are greatly limiting the scope to implement evidence-based, careful management interventions. By producing new standards, knowledge and methodologies, SATURN will create an essential foundation of evidence, supporting the move towards more careful management of our ocean and river ecosystems.
For more information about World Standards Day, visit www.worldstandardsday.org.