Still Waters: US To Crack Down on Ocean Noise That Harms Fish
The ocean has gotten noisier for decades, with man-made racket from oil drilling, shipping, and construction linked to signs of stress in marine life that include beached whales and baby crabs with scrambled navigational signals.
The United States aims to change that as a federal agency prepares a plan that could force reductions in noise-making activities, including oil exploration, dredging, and shipping off the nation’s coast.
“We’ve been worried about ocean noise for decades, since the 1970s,” said Richard Merrick, chief science adviser to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries agency and a key author of the agency’s more detailed 10-year plan to be released publicly later this year. “The question is, what should we do now?”
The draft plan calls for developing noise limits and setting up a standardized listening system. It would also call for the creation of an online archive of noise data that could hold thousands of hours of recordings, which scientists could then cross-reference against data on where marine life congregates.
The plan urges more research on the effects of noise on sea creatures and more coordination with environmental and industry groups, the military, and government.