THE INTERNATIONAL Maritime Organization is updating its guidelines for the reduction of underwater noise from commercial shipping.

The IMO Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Construction has agreed on a draft revision of the guidelines, which aims to address the impact underwater noise has on marine life.

The IMO published its previous guidelines in 2014 as advice for designers, shipbuilders and ship operators.

The revised guidelines include updated technical knowledge, recommendations, classification rules, and sample templates to help shipowners develop underwater noise management plans.

Updated material also focusses on reducing underwater noise in the Arctic, and specifically the Inuit Nunaat region.

The revised guidelines suggest underwater noise has a greater impact in the region, because of icebreaking activities, the presence of noise-sensitive species and potential interference with indigenous hunting rights.

“Additional efforts to decrease impacts on marine wildlife are advisable for ships that operate in these areas, including particular attention to reducing the noise impact from icebreaking and implementation of operational approaches and monitoring,” the IMO wrote.

“These draft guidelines recognise that Inuit Nunaat is a unique environment and adverse impacts to marine wildlife in this area from shipping noise may be significantly increased as a result.

“Sound levels throughout Inuit Nunaat are lower than elsewhere, making it more vulnerable to increases from industrial activity.”

The draft revisions are to be submitted to the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee for approval. MEPC 80 plans to meet from 3 July until 7 July this year.