AWI has long been involved in the issue of anthropogenic ocean noise directly or indirectly generated by the military, the oil and gas industry, commercial shipping, and scientific research. Marine animals use sound for essential functions, including navigation, communication, finding food, and avoiding predators. Intense sound interferes with these activities and results in serious—sometimes fatal—consequences. Anthropogenic noise levels in the marine environment are increasing at an alarming rate and pose a significant threat to marine ecosystems.
AWI and allies have repeatedly pressed the United Nations to take up the issue and work toward a global approach to addressing noise impacts on marine life. We are heartened that the United Nations Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea will devote an entire week to the subject of ocean noise this coming June. AWI will be involved in the deliberations, the outcome of which will be presented in the fall to the UN General Assembly for appropriate action.
The timing of the UN meeting is even more significant given that the current US administration has announced plans to open almost all US federal waters to offshore drilling activities, including in the Arctic. Thousands of coastal communities, interest groups, and officials—including state governors, fishing groups, and local chambers of commerce—are standing up to these threats to their communities and livelihoods. Even the US Department of Defense and NASA have voiced concern that oil and gas development could negatively impact their activities.