Reducing underwater noise

Underwater noise is increasing. In the north Pacific Ocean, underwater noise has been doubling in intensity every decade for the past 60 years. Commercial shipping is one of the main contributors to this increase, and ship traffic and volumes are expected to increase with growing population and trade demands.

Underwater noise interferes with the ability of marine mammals to transmit and receive acoustic information. This means that underwater noise can affect the ability of marine mammals to communicate, find prey, navigate, reproduce, and avoid danger.

There are two primary port-related sources of underwater noise that can affect marine mammals: ship movement and development on port lands and waters, including in-water construction work.

As a Canada Port Authority, we do not have direct control over the majority of port-related activities generating underwater noise within our jurisdiction and beyond port boundaries. We therefore take a collaborative approach to tackling underwater noise, championing coordinated management approaches and working with port tenants and users as well as the broader port community to increase their understanding and help them take action to reduce underwater noise.

Two of our programs—the Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program and the EcoAction Program—are helping to manage and mitigate underwater noise from ship movement in and around the port. Our Project and Environmental Review (PER) process helps us manage and mitigate underwater noise effects from development and construction projects on port lands and waters.

Learn more about our approach to understanding, managing and mitigating the effects of port-related underwater noise on marine mammals in our underwater noise management plan.