The underwater environment is filled with biotic and abiotic sounds, many of which can be important for the survival and reproduction of fish. Over the last century, human activities in and near the water have increasingly added artificial sounds to this environment. Very loud sounds of relatively short exposure, such as those produced during pile driving, can harm nearby fish. However, more moderate underwater noises of longer duration, such as those produced by vessels, could potentially impact much larger areas, and involve much larger numbers of fish. Here we call attention to the urgent need to study the role of sound in the lives of fish and to develop a better understanding of the ecological impact of anthropogenic noise.