Underwater Noise Working Group

Terms of Reference for the Joint Noise Working Group



Purpose and Objective

The Joint Noise Working Group (JNWG) will support the Parties, scientific and advisory bodies and Secretariats of CMS, ACCOBAMS and ASCOBANS in the implementation of the mandates of relevant Resolutions of all three organizations, such as CMS Resolution 12.14 and Decisions 13.58-13.60, ACCOBAMS Res 2.16, ACCOBAMS Res.3.10, ACCOBAMS Res.5.15, ACCOBAMS Res.6.17, ACCOBAMS Res 7.13, ASCOBANS Res.6.2, ASCOBANS Res.9.1, ASCOBANS Res.8.11(Rev.MOP9), and any relevant Resolutions still to be passed.

The JNWG serves as an advisory group to the ACCOBAMS Scientific Committee, ASCOBANS Advisory Committee and CMS Scientific Council. As such, its purpose is to ensure progress is being made towards mitigating the negative impact of underwater noise on cetaceans and other marine biota.

In line with CMS Resolution 12.14, the recommendations of the JNWG should always follow a precautionary approach. The advice given by the Group should be based on the best available scientific information. The absence of scientific consensus shall not be used as a reason for postponing or failing to recommend relevant measures.

It is important to note that the JNWG has an advisory role only.

Terms of Reference

The Working Group will carry out the following functions:

  1. Prepare, and update following each meeting of the decision-making bodies of CMS, ACCOBAMS and ASCOBANS, a work plan responding to relevant Resolutions and Decisions of CMS, ACCOBAMS and ASCOBANS. The work plan may be adjusted intersessionally upon request by the scientific and advisory bodies or the Secretariats.
  2. Update and compile 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.

  1. Provide advice on Best Available Techniques (BAT) and Best Environmental Practice (BEP) in efforts to reduce or mitigate marine noise pollution, e.g. by 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, including by:

a) Consulting stakeholders through the Industry Advisory Group for advice on operational constraints, the technical feasibility of proposed measures, as well as alternative measures or solutions to take into account

b) Recommending appropriate biological indicators and thresholds.

      4. Provision of advice on:

a) Collaboration with other international bodies, such as Barcelona Convention, Black Sea Commission, 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.

  1. Design, and help implement as appropriate, pilot projects to test and improve the existing noise guidelines (ACCOBAMS Res. 7.13 and ASCOBANS AC17/Doc.4-08) and mitigation measures for their application in the field.


  • To facilitate consultation with industry experts on the technical feasibility of proposed measures as well as on any alternative measures or solutions, an Industry Advisory Group (IAG) has been created (see the Terms of Reference of the IAG here).
Last updated on 03 December 2021