A condensed overview of current knowledge on trends in pressures and impacts of the North-East Atlantic and its regions was provided by OSPAR with the Quality Status Report 2010 (QSR 2010). Underwater noise is recognised as one of the main pressures in the marine environment and the noise levels are thought to be increasing internationally. The OSPAR Region II and III seem to be most affected by noise-generating human activities and there are signs of effects on marine life (OSPAR 2010). Marine mammals, many fish species and even some invertebrates use sound to communicate, to find mates, to search for prey, to avoid predators and hazards and to navigate.
Many of the human activities like offshore construction, sand and gravel extraction, drilling, shipping, use of sonar, underwater explosions, seismic surveys, acoustic harassment or deterrent devices generate sound and contribute to the general background level of noise in the sea. Underwater sound from anthropogenic sources has the potential to mask biological communication and to cause behavioural reactions, physiological effects, injuries and mortality in marine animals. Possible impacts depend in particular on the nature of the sound and the acoustic sensitivity of the anima