Monitoring Guidance for Underwater Noise in European Seas


Title: Monitoring Guidance for Underwater Noise in European Seas
Publication Date:
May 01, 2013
Pages: 112

Document Access

Website: External Link
Attachment: Access File
(5 MB)


Dekeling, R.; Tasker, M.; Ainslie, M.; Andersson, M.; André, M.; Castellote, M.; Borsani, J.; Dalen, J.; Folegot, T.; Leaper, R.; Liebschner, A.; Pajala, J.; Robinson, S.; Sigray, P.; Sutton, G.; Thomsen, F.; Van der Graaf, A.; Werner, S.; Wittekind, D.; Young, J. (2013). Monitoring Guidance for Underwater Noise in European Seas. pp 112.

The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) requires European Member States (MS) to develop strategies that should lead to programmes of measures that achieve or maintain Good Environmental Status (GES) in European Seas. As an essential step reaching good environmental status, MS should establish monitoring programmes for assessment, enabling the state of the marine waters concerned to be evaluated on a regular basis.


In 2010, in Commission Decision 2010/477/EU, criteria and methodological standards on GES of marine waters were published. Two indicators were described for Descriptor 11 (Noise/Energy): Indicator 11.1.1 on low and mid frequency impulsive sounds and Indicator 11.2.1 on continuous low frequency sound (ambient noise).


As a follow up to the Commission Decision, the Marine Directors in 2010 agreed to establish a Technical Subgroup (TSG) under the Working Group on Good Environmental Status (WG GES) for further development of Descriptor 11 Noise/Energy. TSG (Underwater) Noise in 2011 focused on clarifying the purpose, use and limitation of the indicators and described methodology that would be unambiguous, effective and practicable. In February 2012, TSG Noise delivered its first report [Van der Graaf et al., 2012]1. For both the impulsive and the ambient noise indicators significant progress was made to their practical implementation, and most ambiguities were solved.


In December 2011, EU Marine Directors requested the continuation of TSG Noise, and the group was tasked with recommending how MS might best make the indicators of the Commission Decision operational. TSG Noise was asked first to provide monitoring guidance that could be used by MS in establishing monitoring schemes for underwater noise in their marine waters. Further work includes providing suggestions for (future) target setting; for addressing the biological impacts of anthropogenic underwater noise and to evaluate new information on the effects of sound on marine biota, with the view to considering indicators of noise effects.


The present document is Part I of the Monitoring Guidance for Underwater Noise in European Seas (Interim Guidance Report) and provides MS with the information needed to commence the monitoring required to implement this aspect of MSFD. TSG Noise has focused on ambiguities, uncertainties and other shortcomings that may hinder monitoring initiatives and has provided solutions, and describes methodology for monitoring both impulsive and ambient noise in such a way that information needed for management and policy can be collected in a cost-effective way. TSG Noise has no doubt that further issues will arise once monitoring starts, but hopes the principles laid out in this guidance will help resolve these.


The Monitoring Guidance for Underwater Noise is structured, as follows:

  • Part I: Executive Summary & Recommendations,

  • Part II: Monitoring Guidance Specifications, and

  • Part III: Background Information and Annexes.


Part I of the Monitoring Guidance is the executive summary for policy and decision makers responsible for the adoption and implementation of MSFD at national level. It provides the key results and recommendations presented in Part II that support the practical guidance for MS and will, enable assessment of the current level of underwater noise.


Part II, is the main report of the Monitoring Guidance, that provides the specifications for the monitoring of underwater noise, with a dedicated section on impulsive noise (Criterion 11.1 of the Commission Decision) and ambient noise (Criterion 11.2 of the Commission Decision). It provides a detailed guide to those who will implement the monitoring/modelling, and noise registration technical specifications.


Part III, the background information and annexes, is not part of the guidance, but is added for additional information, examples and references that support the Monitoring Guidance specifications. 

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