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Green Marine releases its new performance indicators for underwater noise

January 25, 2017

Quebec City, Wednesday, January 25, 2017 – Green Marine is broadening the scope of its North American environmental certification program by adding two performance indicators dealing with underwater noise emanating from ships and port activities respectively, with the goal of reducing the impact on marine mammals.

By wading into this emerging issue, Green Marine is once again proving its vision and innovation, according to its executive director, David Bolduc. “This issue is being recognized as increasingly important everywhere on the planet by numerous national and international agencies, and we are proud to be at the forefront of the efforts to find solutions,” he says. “It is important to underline that the maritime companies and ports that are certified by Green Marine have voluntarily accepted to adopt the new underwater noise evaluation criteria with no regulations obliging them to do so.”

The new indicators, which apply to ship owners and ports operating in salt water, are the result of collaboration among the industry, environmental organizations, the scientific community and government representatives.  Two intensive years of research, discussions and awareness-building were necessary to develop the criteria.

“These new indicators notably encourage the maritime industry to work in collaboration with the scientific community to collect data on its noise emissions, which will be used to further develop strategies for noise reduction,” explains Green Marine program manager Véronique Nolet, who coordinates the working group composed of a dozen members, including expert acousticians, naval architects and representatives from environmental organizations.

“The new indicators are a positive step toward encouraging the shipping industry to assess and reduce underwater noise that can affect marine mammals and other species,” says WWF-Canada Senior Specialist, Oceans Hussein Alidina, a member of the working group that developed these indicators. “We are heartened to see industry keen to engage with this conservation issue through this voluntary program.”

Accurate data on underwater noise generated by commercial shipping, its impacts and mitigation measures are insufficient to date. A report on underwater noise prepared by Green Marine for Transport Canada and filed in 2016 highlights the importance of deepening our understanding of noise impacts caused by commercial shipping and port activities on marine mammals and possible mitigation measures.

The actions spurred by the new performance indicators include Green Marine preparing a list of the vulnerable areas identified in Canadian and American waters so that participants can determine whether their vessels sail in these areas or their maritime operations affect these regions. The new underwater noise indicators are intended to improve our understanding of the issue and promote a better cohabitation between ships and whales.

The new underwater noise performance indicators will be optional during the first year of assessment (in 2017), as is always the case when new indicators are added to the program. They will subsequently be mandatory to obtain Green Marine certification.

All of the environmental issues and performance criteria in the Green Marine program are detailed in the Program page.