UK Marine Noise Registry
JNCC developed, hosts and maintains the UK Marine Noise Registry (MNR), guided by and on behalf of Defra and its devolved administrations. The registry records human activities in UK seas that produce loud, low to medium frequency (10Hz – 10kHz) impulsive noise. Data stored dates back to 2015. Developing the MNR was a commitment made in the UK Marine Strategy.
Why is underwater noise a problem?
Underwater noise from human activities can affect marine species from fish to invertebrates and to marine mammals in a variety of ways, from masking sounds used to communicate and find food, to physical injury and even death. Understanding when and where noisy activities take place will help define a baseline level for impulsive noise in UK waters and will inform research on the impacts of noise and potential management measures.
The MNR is a user-friendly data input platform for industry and regulators. It collects estimated location and date data on noisy activities (during planning stages) and actual location and date data (after the activity has been completed). Where possible, data are extracted from current licensing online portals or provided by developers directly using a simple online form. This is mandatory in some cases and voluntary in others, dependent on the activity type and licensing procedures involved.
Which noise sources are collected
Activities include impact pile driving, geophysical surveys (seismic, sub bottom profiling and multibeam echosounders), explosives, military related sonar and some acoustic deterrent devices. The MNR also collects, where available, source property data (in line with TG noise guidance) including frequency, maximum airgun volume, maximum hammer energy, TNT equivalent, sound pressure level and sound exposure level.
Monitoring impulsive manmade noise will help to quantify the pressure on the environment, by making available an overview of relevant impulsive low and mid-frequency sound sources, throughout the year. Maps are produced annually showing the spread of activities in ‘pulse block days’ (the number of days within a set period of time that impulsive noise has been generated within each UK oil and gas licensing block). Maps are available from: https://data.gov.uk/. Data in the MNR are also fed into a northeast Atlantic regional registry in support of OSPAR (the Oslo and Paris Convention for the Protection of the North-East Atlantic).
Publications using the MNR data include:
- The spatial and temporal distribution of loud impulsive noise in UK waters (2015-2018). Kerswell-Box, T., et al., 2019.
- The spatial and temporal distribution of loud impulsive noise in UK waters (2015-2018). Poster.
- Impulsive noise pollution in the Northeast Atlantic: Reported activity during 2015-2017. Merchant, N.D., et al. 2020.
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