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New DFO plan to reduce noise impacts on marine mammals at risk in the St. Lawrence Estuary

March 11, 2020

Fisheries and Oceans Canada, a Green Marine supporter, released an action plan in early March to reduce the impacts of noise on the beluga whale and other marine mammals at risk in the St. Lawrence Estuary (specifically  the blue whale – Northwest Atlantic population, the fin whale – Atlantic population, and the North Atlantic right whale). One of the common threats to marine mammals in this area is the level of ambient noise caused by shipping, boating and whale watching. Anthropogenic noise can mask the sounds that marine mammals emit to communicate, orient themselves, and find their prey, altering their behaviour or causing temporary or permanent hearing loss.

The action plan is the result of collaboration among several stakeholders, including several federal agencies, maritime industry representatives, and boaters. It identifies approximately 30 different measures to reduce noise impacts on marine mammals at risk. These actions include, for instance, an updated overview of marine traffic, measuring the acoustic signature of all fleets navigating the St. Lawrence Estuary, a behaviour analysis of marine mammals at risk, an inventory of innovations, technical solutions and operational practices known to reduce noise, as well as developing and promoting recognition programs or incentives for improvements that reduce noise. Green Marine, which published its environmental performance indicator on underwater noise in 2017, is identified as a key partner in the implementation of the action plan.

Action Plan to Reduce the Impact of Noise on the Beluga Whale and Other Marine Mammals at Risk in the St. Lawrence Estuary