Underwater Noise Working Group

Terms of Reference for a Joint Noise Working Group


This Working Group will be comprised of members and observers of the scientific and advisory bodies of CMS, ACCOBAMS and ASCOBANS.  External experts are invited to participate in the Working Group, too, in order to ensure the best possible advice can be generated for the Parties.  The Working Group will generally operate by using the “ASCOBANS Advisory Committee Workspace” (workspace.ascobans.org) for its discussions.

The Working Group will address the mandates of relevant Resolutions of all three organizations, such as CMS Res.9.19, CMS Res.10.24, ACCOBAMS Res.3.10, ACCOBAMS Res.4.17, ASCOBANS Res.6.2 and ASCOBANS Res.7.2 and any relevant Resolutions still to be passed.  It will present reports on progress and new information to each meeting of the CMS Scientific Council, ACCOBAMS Scientific Committee and ASCOBANS Advisory Committee; if several of these meet in short succession, the same report with only relevant updates should be submitted.


The Working Group will carry out the following functions:

I. Update and complete information on:

a)     Relevant activities and developments in other international bodies (both regional and global) and under the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive

b)     Relevant developments and new literature especially with respect to technologies aimed at mitigating the propagation of marine noise and noise sources that may present a threat to marine life and how cetaceans are affected

c)     Parties’ progress in implementation of the resolutions mentioned above

II. Improvement of existing guidelines based on new scientific findings, detailing available mitigation measures, alternative technologies and standards required for achieving the conservation goals of the treaties, in particular by:

a)     Updating and structuring the recommendations in the ACCOBAMS and ASCOBANS noise guidelines and making them applicable globally

b)     Updating the guidance on relevant mitigation technologies and management measures, and their effectiveness and cost

c)     Continuing to consult stakeholders for advice on operational constraints to take into account

d)     Recommending appropriate biological indicators and thresholds

The results will be presented for endorsement to Parties of CMS, ACCOBAMS and ASCOBANS.

III. Provision of advice on:

a)     Collaboration with other international bodies, such as OSPAR, HELCOM, CBD, IMO and IWC

b)     Requirements of the relevant other bodies that countries have elected to adhere to with respect to underwater noise, such as European Directives (i.e. the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the Habitats Directive)

c)     Opportunities for influencing decisions of other relevant bodies in order to achieve more effective protection of marine life from impacts of underwater noise

IV. Design, and help implement as appropriate, pilot projects to test and improve the existing noise guidelines (ACCOBAMS Res. 4.17 and ASCOBANS AC17/Doc.4-08) and mitigation measures for their application in the field

V. Responding to relevant Resolutions and priorities of CMS, ACCOBAMS and ASCOBANS


Last updated on 01 December 2020