Future noise abatement requires maritime spatial planning and compromises

Combatting man-made noise is difficult because it has to reconcile both environmental protection, as well as economic aspects.

In Finnish marine management, underwater noise is measured using two indicators. These indicators provide information on the development and the impact of noise.

Underwater noise is generated in sectors that are important to humans and the economy

Maritime transport is the cornerstone of the Baltic Sea states foreign economy. It cannot be limited without major economic spill-over effects. The old truth that “Finland is an island” still holds. Much of our foreign trade is done by sea.

Nowadays, the noise effects of wind farms are the subject of intense debate. However, thus far, there has been no medical consensus reached on their harmful effects. Since they produce clean energy, their numbers will also continue to increase.

The extensive construction of the Baltic Sea coastlines and the reclamation of additional land from the sea, e.g. for ports, terminals, roads, and residential areas, will also increase. This is especially true in growth centres when other usable space runs out.

If noise cannot be eliminated, it can be reduced

In the case of marine animals, a future objective might be, therefore, to regionally limit man-made noise. For example, the important breeding areas of marine animals would be kept as free as possible from anthropogenic noise. The noise could also be reduced by scheduling human activities outside the animal's breeding season.

Besides animals, man-made noise can interfere with those activities dependent on the state of the sea, such as fishing, tourism, and recreation. Each of these sectors has its own requirements for noise levels at sea. It should be possible to reconcile the requirements of these various parties with the activities that generate noise.

It is essential, therefore, that efforts be made to adapt marine ecosystem services to minimise the disruption to marine life. Ecosystem services include, among other things, maritime transport routes or the use of the sea for energy production.