The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) requires European Member States (MS) to develop strategies for their marine waters that should lead to programmes of measures that achieve or maintain Good Environmental Status (GES) in European Seas. As an essential step in reaching good environmental status, MS should establish monitoring programmes, enabling the state of the marine waters concerned to be assessed on a regular basis. Criteria and methodological standards on GES of marine waters were published in 2010 (Commission Decision 2010/477/EU). 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) 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; the first report [Van der Graaf et al., 2012] was delivered in February 2012. Significant progress was made in the interpretation and practical implementation of the two indicators, 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 a view to considering indicators of noise effects.
The present document is Part II of the Monitoring Guidance for Underwater Noise in European Seas and provides MS with the information needed to commence the monitoring required to implement this aspect of MSFD. TSG Noise has identified ambiguities, uncertainties and other shortcomings that may hinder monitoring initiatives and has provided solutions. Methodology is described for monitoring both impulsive and ambient noise to ensure the information required for management and policy is collected in a cost-effective way. Further issues will certainly arise once monitoring starts, but the principles laid out in this guidance will help resolve these.
To view Part I of this report, click here.