Ocean Noise Reduction - GlobalSaving marine life could be as easy as turning down the volume
In early June, the European Commission published a revision of five legislations that regulate marine safety and pollution from ships at sea.
The revisions are critical in light of new challenges facing the shipping industry.
IFAW previously submitted its recommendations on the revision of Directive 2005/35/EC on ship-source pollution during the public consultation process in September. We urged that the European Union should take action and address underwater noise pollution through the revised Directive.
The Directive entered into force in 2005 after several oil spills occurred in Europe Union waters, such as the Erika in 1999 and the Prestige in 2002, to penalise and prevent such discharges in the future. The Directive originally aimed to implement international rules on pollution by oil and noxious liquid substances in bulk at the European level.
Yet today, in 2023, the reality of maritime transport impacts on marine ecosystems are known to be much wider, and ship pollution can no longer be limited to discharges of chemical substances into the ocean. IFAW welcomes the Commission proposal to extend the scope of the Directive to new substances, such as discharges of harmful substances carried in packaged form, sewage, garbage and water and residue from scrubbers. This will strengthen the obligation on ships to operate in a more sustainable manner and reinforces the protection of the marine environment as a priority for the EU and industry.
IFAW also warmly welcomes the acknowledgment of the impacts of other types of pollution on marine life in the Commission’s proposal for the revised Directive, including underwater noise, marine litter, loss of containers and air pollutants. However, as the Commission will only consider assessing the possibility of modifying the scope of this Directive if new international standards are adopted in the future regarding these pressures, IFAW considers this approach to be short-sighted.
“Scientific studies unequivocally show that underwater noise pollution is detrimental to marine life,” noted Ilaria Di Silvestre, Head of EU Policy at IFAW. “If we want to achieve good environmental protection in our waters, all sources of pollution need to be addressed together and urgently. The EU should reinforce its leadership here by adopting mandatory rules and penalties to limit underwater noise pollution now – this could also stimulate and redefine international debate. To this end, IFAW looks forward to working with MEPs, Member States and the Commission during the next phases of the Directive’s revision process.”
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