Anthropogenic Noise

Underwater noise is widely recognised as a threat for marine wildlife and the conservation of endangered species such as several species of cetaceans. The main sources of impulsive underwater noise identified as causing impacts to cetaceans are :

  • Seismic surveys
  • Pile driving
  • Explosive use
  • Low and mid-frequency active sonar

Reaction to noise depends on such factors as species, individual, age, sex, and behavioural state. Observed responses to noise in cetaceans are behavioural disturbance, avoidance or abandon or portions of habitats, injuries and damages to hearing and other tissues.
Such responses could result in impacts such as decreased foraging success, higher energetic demands, decreased reproduction. Such impacts can affect populations.


The quietMED Project

The quietMED Project aims to get better coordination among member states that share marine regions and sub-regions to increase the protection level and the conservation status of the marine spaces of the Mediterranean Sea against the damages caused by underwater noise resulted from anthropogenic activities.

The quietMED project aims to improve the level of coherence and the comparability as regards Descriptor 11 (underwater noise) by enhancing cooperation among Mediterranean Sea Basin countries within the implementation of the second cycle of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

Link to the quietMED website


Research & Monitoring Programmes in the ACCOBAMS area

Existing networks of deep-sea monitoring stations are at the basis of current Mediterranean projects aiming at monitoring long term trends in ambient noise and marine mammal populations:



Initiatives led by ACCOBAMS

Policy-oriented initiatives:

Resolutions 2.16 (2004); 3.10 (2007): 4.17 (2010); 5.15 (2013); 6.17 & 6.18 (2016); 7.13 (2019). Such Resolutions support the implementation of measures for balancing human activities at sea and cetacean conservation.

Mediterranean Strategy on Underwater Noise Monitoring. This work aims, in collaboration with the Barcelona Convention, at laying down the methodological basis for a future implementation of a basin-wide  monitoring programme on underwater noise.

Stakeholder involvement:

The “Guidance on underwater noise mitigation measures“ was developed in 2013. This guide was conceived to support the implementation of noise mitigation measures by industry, and is the result of a cooperation between representatives of the industry, scientists and NGOs.


Research projects

The “Overview of the Noise Hotspots in the ACCOBAMS area” is a project launched in 2015 with the aim of producing the first overview at the Mediterranean scale of the extent of noise-producing human activities. 

Results of this project will support decision making on conservation measures for cetaceans. Further, as noise is a form of pollution, results of this project are highly relevant for the objectives of the Barcelona Convention, and particularly in the framework of the EcaP (Ecosystems Approach) initiative.

Document: Overview of the Noise Hotspots in the ACCOBAMS area – Part I the Mediterranean Sea


Improving mitigation measures

An ACCOBAMS label for Marine Mammal Observers (MMOs) is currently under development. This label aims, in collaboration with the JNCC, at certifying high quality training courses for MMOs.

Link to MMOs