EU Parliament votes to protect marine life from excessive underwater noise

EU Parliament votes to protect marine life from excessive underwater noise
Wednesday, 9 October, 2013

Conservationists welcome today's vote in the European Parliament to make underwater sonar oil exploration subject to Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA), as a significant step to reduce marine noise pollution.

Reviewing legislation for EIAs (2012/0297 (COD)) the European Parliament today included “research and exploration of minerals” among those activities that require an EIA. “With more and more sonar explorations by oil companies in European seas, posing an increasing threat towards marine life, this outcome is certainly positive news”, said experts from international conservation groups OceanCare, NRDC and IFAW.

In the past two weeks alone, two scientific papers have been published documenting some of the detrimental effects caused by intense underwater noise on marine life, such as on whales, dolphins and even shellfish. Click below to view papers.
Independent review of a 2008 mass stranding in Madagascar
Anthropogenic noise causes body malformations and delays development in marine larvae
Conservationists have been campaigning for years to reduce noise pollution in the marine environment. Recently Greece as well as Croatia granted permits to have large-scale seismic surveys undertaken in their waters.

“We congratulate the Parliament for its brave stand, even when it has faced strong opposition through lobbying activities by the oil industry”, says Sigrid Lüber, president of OceanCare.

“Making EIAs mandatory for underwater exploration activities is a long overdue but important step towards better protection of marine life. Now we urge the European governments to follow the Parliament's lead”, says Michael Jasny, Director of NRDC’s Marine Mammal Protection Project.

Patrick Ramage, Director of IFAW’s Whale Programme adds ‘Only last week an Independent Panel  demonstrated the link between the emission of intense underwater noise and a mass whale stranding which took place in 2008 in Madagascar. IFAW was involved with the rescue efforts and saw the considerable suffering of the whales firsthand. Today, the European Parliament has taken a decisive step to help marine life.’

The Council is expected to decide its position in the coming weeks.

About IFAW

Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


Post a comment

Press Contact

Adrian Hiel (IFAW EU)
Contact phone:
+32 (0)473 86 34 61
Contact email:


Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation