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This one year project, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLG), is a collaboration between the Coastal and Marine Research Centre (CMRC) and Quiet Oceans.

Noise is considered an acoustic pollutant, and affects many marine animals including marine mammals, fish, sea turtles and marine invertebrates. Impacts of acoustic pollution range from death due to physical injury and auditory damage to behavioural and habitat use changes. Marine mammals rely on sound for navigation, feeding and communication and are known to be particularly sensitive to anthropogenic noise.  Under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), adopted in July 2008, a Good Environmental Status (GES) must be achieved by 2020. This advocates the ecosystem approach to the management of human activities that impact on the marine environment by integrating the concepts of environmental protection and sustainable use.

In recent years noise from human activities has increased significantly in the Irish marine environment, with sources including shipping, seismic surveys, seabed drilling, sonar, telemetry devices, underwater explosions and vibrations. One of the most immediate and well-documented sources of acoustic pollution is from seismic surveys. Since 1965 nearly 100,000 km of seismic survey track lines have been conducted in Irish waters (Petroleum Affairs Division).

This project will contribute to formulating decisions on appropriate use of descriptors for assessing GES in Ireland and meeting our obligations under the MSFD. As well as this, the project aims to design an effective noise monitoring network of observation stations for Ireland’s EEZ waters.