Managing Underwater Noise in European Waters: Implementing the Marine Strategy Framework Directive

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The European Union’s (EU) Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008/56/EC) aims to improve the condition of all Europe’s seas and ensure that human usage of these seas is sustainable. The directive will work by requiring EU member states to set a series of objectives for 11 Descriptors of Environmental Status. One of these descriptors, Introduction of Energy, Including Underwater Noise, Is at Levels That Do Not Adversely Affect the Marine Environment, concerns underwater noise. A task group consisting of the authors was established to recommend to the European Commission indicators that might be used by member states to define good environmental status (GES) under this descriptor. The task group focused on sounds that affect relatively broad areas of the marine environment and developed three possible indicators of underwater sound.