Sulphur cap - BIMCO Bulletin

Sulphur cap

REGULATION September 2020 Shipping industry should brace for underwater regulation By Mette Kronholm Frnde, Communications Manager and Editor at BIMCO There is currently no mandatory international regulation on ocean noise As the worlds seas and oceans become noisier, with little doubt that low levels of continuous noise can seriously impact the health of marine species, it is ever more likely that the shipping industry will have to get used to noise-reduction requirements and new regulations. A recent report in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America concluded that a doubling (3dB) of underwater noise intensity takes place every decade. Sound in the oceans originates from many sources: animals, storms, earthquakes, commercial shipping, marine construction, oil and gas exploration and production, and even clouds of bubbles released from the seabed. Despite evidence that noise sources are damaging marine species, from large whales to small zooplankton, there is currently no mandatory international regulation on ocean noise. This, however, may be about to change, according to Jeppe Skovbakke Juhl, Manager, Maritime Safety & Security at BIMCO. It seems likely that the process is about to start, and we believe more regulation is coming, he says. We foresee that the existing voluntary IMO [International Maritime Organization] guidelines may become mandatory and that further regulations could come into place from the EU, US and Canada. In 2014, the IMO issued voluntary guidelines on the reduction of underwater radiated noise from commercial shipping (MSC.1/Circ.833), with the aim of minimising adverse impacts on marine life. Alignment and global standards are key According to Juhl, an important next step should be to focus on having common procedures for measuring and determining what criteria should apply to limiting sound levels, the frequency ranges that should apply, and where. Classification societies have already looked into the alignment of all the various standards of individual societies. The industry should also aim for global, rather than national, regulations, which should still allow for regional safeguarding in areas that need special protection. In accordance with UNCLOS1, coastal states have a limited ability to impose and enforce unilateral environmental and navigation regulations on foreign-flagged ships passing through their waters, says Juhl. If individual states need to use regional measures in certain areas to reduce underwater noise, they should do this through the IMOs Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSA) status, rather than implementing the special noise-reduction measures throughout the country, if only a certain area needs it. Applying regional restrictions via the PSSA status will allow countries such as Canada to pin down and protect areas in which animals such as whale populations migrate, and avoid imposing those special requirements to parts of the country where they are not needed. It would be a way to avoid implementation of an international speed limitation in all areas, including where this is not necessary, while allowing extra measures to be put in place where it is important to protect the marine environment and marine life, Juhl says. Photo (top): iStock / Michael Zeigler We foresee that the existing voluntary IMO [International Maritime Organization] guidelines may become mandatory We should make sure IMO guidelines on underwater noise are made mandatory internationally. This would generate rules for everyone to put special devices in place when building ships to lower the noise in general, while maintaining the option to use those guidelines to apply for special measures where needed. 1 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea Connect with BIMCO Facebook Twitter Linkedin YouTube