IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


10th June, 2023 Environment

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  • The landmark report by CMS, released on June 8 to mark World Oceans Day, has an objective to address a major threat, noise pollution, to marine species.
  • This UN report, also highlights need to reduce and provide guidance for reduce noise to safeguard marine species by using various methods like Best Available Technology and Environmental Practice.

World Oceans Day

The ocean covers over 70% of the planet. World Ocean Day is an international day and is celebrated, as a life source to humans, on 8 June every year. It reminds every one of the major role the oceans have in everyday life.

Theme for World Oceans Day 2023 is Planet Ocean: tides are changing.

Migratory Species

Migratory species, whole or a part of its population, are species that move regularly, periodically or seasonally from one habitat to another during and cover long distances. They cross one or more national jurisdictional boundaries in search of best forage or to escape harsh weather events.

Findings of the report

Overall Impact on Marine Wildlife

  • Sound is vital for Marine wildlife, both migratory species and their prey. It supports life functions like communication, detection of food and threat, and orientation.
  • As oceans are becoming increasingly noisy it is causing significant harm to marine species.
  • There is an eminent need to reduce noise in oceans to safeguard our marine species.

Sources and Threats of Noise pollution for Marine Wildlife and ecosystem

  • Evidences suggest that underwater noise pollution adversely impact on entire marine ecosystems and wildlife.
  • Till date Impact is documented for at least 150 species of marine origin.
  • As per report there are three major sources of noise pollution:
    • Shipping – which has led to 32-fold increase in low-frequency noise in past 50 years.
    • Seismic airgun surveys (used in oil and gas exploration) - is a threats to marine life due to the loud and intense noises produced and
    • Pile driving – which is used for offshore wind farms and other marine infrastructure

Impact on Communication

  • According to the report, prolonged exposure of noise can lead to direct injury and harm auditory threshold shifts in Animals.
  • It can also compromising their communication and hamper the ability to detect prey and threats which sometimes is cause of death.

Impact on Health

  • Noise pollution disturbs the marine wildlife in totality, disrupting the harmonious underwater symphony that marine species such as whales and dolphins, polar bear, pinnipeds, sirenians, crustaceans etc.
  • It modifies the natural behaviour of animals.
  • Affects reproduction and feeding of marine life.

Impact on Habitat and survival

  • Displacement of Marine wild animals from their critical habitats.
  • Disorientation from their migration routes.
  • Masking important natural sounds, such as the call of a mate, threatening their survival.

On Humans

  • Grave implications for human livelihoods for instance adverse impact on fisheries.
  • Impact of economic well being and overall survival.
  • Damage to marine food chain and thus affect human who rely on these resources.

Measure to be adopted to address the problem of noise pollution to marine wildlife

For the shipping industry

  • Use of Best Available Technology (BAT) and Best Environmental Practice (BEP) in ship design and propeller technology thus operating conditions of these ships.
  • Slow steaming – it means reducing the speed of container and cargo ships as it burn less fuel at lower speeds
  • Apply quieting technologies for reduction of sound at the source to minimize the negative impacts of noise underwater.
    • These techniques have additional benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing fuel consumption and mitigation of climate change.
    • It also lowers the acoustic footprint and CO2 emissions.
    • If the techniques applied for noisiest 10-15 per cent of ships, it would prove effective in reducing overall shipping noise.

For Pile driving

  • Use of available quieting technologies and noise abatement systems.
  • Keeping a note of best practices already in place for eg
    • Reduce the noise at the source will work excellent in mitigating these impacts.
    • Germany have set noise limits and worked in the direction of deploying quieter alternatives.

For an alternative to Seismic airgun surveys

  • Need for quieter alternatives like Marine Vibroseis.
  • It is a technology designed to produce controlled, lower-frequency seismic signals.
  • This shows an effective and environmentally friendly approach to tackle underwater noise pollution.
  • Outlining other rigorous mitigation measures to be adopted.

Role of countries

  • Countries along with industry can play an important role to address this noise pollution.
  • Taking and implementing important decisions and resolutions like
    • Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)
  • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
  • Enforcing and encouraging the use of the Best Available Techniques/Technologies (BAT) and Environmental Practice (BEP).

Other Regional conventions also advocate for the implementation of BAT and BEP

  • Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR Convention).
  • Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area (Helsinki Convention).
  • Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS).
  • Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas (ASCOBANS).
  • Creation of an Industry Advisory Group (IAG) was which includes experts from industries such as the shipping sector, the oil and gas industry, shoreline developers, and marine renewable energy.
  • Adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework – This framework consists of global targets to be achieved by 2030 safeguard biodiversity.
  • Taking measure to contribute for Global Biodiversity Framework and the UN Decade of Oceans Science for Sustainable Development.

Way Ahead/Other Measures

  • Certain activities impacting marine life call for the need for further mitigation measures.
  • For instance avoiding area, that are critical for wildlife, during particular times of the year.
  • To perform detailed environmental assessments.
  • Effective regulation and implementation.
  • A robust monitoring mechanism.
  • Investment in research and development to improve understanding of underwater noise impacts.

Convention on Migratory Species (CMS)

  • CMS, also knows as Bonn Convention, is a United Nations environmental treaty, which provides a platform for discussion conservation and sustainable use of migratory species of animals and their habitats.
  • Migratory species could be terrestrial, marine and of avian origin.
  • It is only such global convention in the conservation of migratory species which makes the collaboration of states possible on migratory animals pass, the Range States.
  • It also provides the legal framework, in such migratory ranges, for international coordination for the purpose of conservation. It has several legally binding Agreements.
  • In its appendices it lists two types of migratory species which are
    • Migratory Species requiring international cooperation and
    • Threatened Migratory Species
  • As of 1 March 2022 the Convention on Migratory Species has 133 Parties.
  • India is a party of convention since 1983 however it should be noted that Russian Federation and USA are not a party to this convention.
  • The Conference of the Parties (COP) of the convention is the decision-making body which meets once every three years.


Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

  • CBD, also known as Biodiversity Convention, is a multilateral treaty of United Nations operating under guidance of UNEP, the United Nations Environment Programme.
  • It is legally binding treaty which was negotiated and signed by nations at the Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro in Brazil on June 5, 1992.
  • It covers safeguards biodiversity and rights of indigenous peoples at all levels which are ecosystems, species and genetic resources.
  • It encourages conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of resources and Fair and equitable sharing of benefits.
  • The Secretariat of CBD is in Montreal, Canada.
  • India, along with 196 countries, is party to this convention however please note that USA and the Vatican are not part of CBD

Must read Article:



Marine Noise pollution has become an eminent danger to Marine diversity and human survival. Elaborate. Also enumerate the steps which could be taken to address the severe implications of underwater noise pollution. (250 words)