Hong Kong Customs displays 82.5kg of rhino horns from South Africa and destined for Malaysia. Photo: ISD

Ocean Noise from Commercial Shipping

The scientific community now recognizes that global commercial shipping noise poses a significant threat to marine mammals, particularly to vulnerable populations of beluga whales and narwhals. To address the issue of underwater noise from ships, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) developed voluntary ship noise guidelines in 2014 (Guidelines for the Reduction of Underwater Noise from Commercial Shipping to Address Adverse Impacts on Marine Life). To date, there has been little to no implementation of these guidelines. 

Necessary updates to the guidelines that include provisions for mandatory speed reduction measures and potential noise reduction targets implemented at the ship design and construction phase are essential in advancing international efforts to reduce shipping noise by building on IMO’s previous guidelines. The goal of EIA’s advocacy efforts at the IMO is to promote member-state adoption of binding international regulations on ship-based underwater noise reductions, which is particularly critical within Arctic waters where the current marine soundscape is largely quiet in terms of a lack of continual presence of vessel noise compared to other more industrialized areas of ocean.

Related Resources


Turn Down the Volume

There are more than 50,000 commercial ships traversing the world oceans, carrying out the important job of moving more than 80% of global trade by volume. An unintended consequence of all these ships is growing underwater noise pollution. A cargo vessel underway can often be heard from tens of kilometers away. Scientists measuring ocean noise […]


Cutting Through The Noise: EIA’s Take on International Progress to Reduce Underwater Noise in Commercial Shipping

Recently, EIA attended the Ship Design and Construction Sub-Committee (SDC 9) meeting of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London. The IMO is where countries meet to agree on regulatory frameworks to, among other things, minimize the environmental impacts of shipping. EIA has been participating in IMO meetings for nearly eight years. We worked together […]


Five Years of Failure

Cook Inlet beluga whales (CIBWs) are in peril. Only about 279 individuals remain and at their current rate of decline the population faces a serious risk of functional extinction in about a decade. Cook Inlet belugas have been in decline for almost two decades and were designated as endangered in 2008. While the situation is […]

Press Release

Newly Released Recordings Pull Back the Curtain on the Canadian Company Behind Pebble Mine

Washington D.C. —The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) today released two tapes that feature Canadian mining baron, Ron Thiessen, discussing his political strategy for securing a federal permit for the controversial Pebble Mine project in southwest Alaska. The recordings underscore both Thiessen’s importance as a driving force behind the Pebble project and the financial windfall that […]


White Whale, Gold Mine – Live Premiere

Watch above or directly on Youtube!Premiere starts at 4pm Alaska / 8pm Eastern! What the film is about: Featuring music by Portugal. The Man and narrated by Zach Carothers, White Whale, Gold Mine shines a light on the importance of beluga whales to Alaskans and the Alaskan ecosystem. The film will highlight how belugas, other […]