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Addressing the adverse impacts of underwater noise on migratory species
by Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) (United Nations entity)
Anthropogenic ocean noise can have adverse effects on migratory species, such as disturbance to communication between individuals or disruption of navigation. Through its various instruments and working groups, Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) has recommended Parties to undertake research of the impact of underwater noise, and to limit or mitigate man-made noise to address SDG 14 Target 14.1.

Resolutions have been adopted at the last two Conference of the Parties (2008 and 2011), which address the severe impact of marine noise, and has allowed the progression of scientific research and its implementation into policy. These resolutions have given rise to the development of guidelines on Environmental Impact Assessments for Marine Noise-generating Activities, which have been submitted for review at the upcoming COP 12, as well as consolidations of resolutions and decisions.

The Joint Noise Working Group (JNWG) of CMS, ACCOBAMS and ASCOBANS also serves as an advisory group to ensure the continuous progress towards mitigating the negative impact of underwater noise on cetaceans and other marine biota. The JNWG also works to reduce the effects of underwater noise generated because of offshore construction of renewable energy sources, such as offshore windfarms, and developed extensive mitigation measures in 2014 for windfarm construction. The need for the implementation of these guidelines will be reaffirmed at COP 12, putting emphasis on ongoing coordinated research on the impacts on migratory species.
Progress reports
By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution
Type of commitment
OTHER POLLUTANTS (please specify)
  • Other (please specify): Noise pollution
By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans
Type of commitment
Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries
Type of commitment
  • Scientific, socioeconomic and interdisciplinary research
  • Scientific cooperation
Guidelines on Environmental Impact Assessments for Marine Noise-generating Activities to be adopted at COP 12
Staff / Technical expertise
o CMS acts as a facilitator to unfolding initiatives, and provides input and guidance during the implementation of recommendations. The Joint Noise Working Group also acts as an advisory group to the ACCOBAMS Scientific Committee, ASCOBANS Advisory Commit
In-kind contribution
o Contribution from governments, Parties of CMS, Scientific Council, Joint Noise Working Group
Basic information
Time-frame: 2017 - Ongoing
UN Environment (United Nations Entity), ASCOBANS (United Nations Entity), ACCOBAMS (United Nations Entity)
Ocean Basins
  • Global
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficaries
Contact information
Melanie Virtue, Head, Aquatic Species Team, melanie.virtue@cms.int,
Bonn, Germany
Other SDGs
United Nations