Arctic Council’s PAME Meets on Marine Sound Project

The Protection of the Marine Environment(“PAME”) describes itself here as:

“one of six Arctic Council working groups….PAME is the focal point of the Arctic Council’s activities related to the protection and sustainable use of the Arctic marine environment and provides a unique forum for collaboration on a wide range of activities in this regard.”

The PAME Working Group Meeting (PAME II-2019) was held from 10-12 September 2019 in Iceland. The meeting agenda included a discussion of PAME’s continuing review of marine sound, which includes “Developing Acoustic Intensity Maps for Shipping in the Circumpolar Arctic.”  The draft Statement of Work for this project states:

“This Statement of Work outlines the scope, timelines and deliverables for a   specific segment of work- underwater noise mapping – as part of the 2019-21 PAME project: Underwater Noise in the Arctic –Understanding Impacts and    Mitigation Strategy Options.”

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            “Internationally, work is either being advocated for or currently underway in numerous fora to better understand and mitigate the impacts of underwater noise, including at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and at the United Nations (UN) more generally. Accordingly, given its mandate to address marine policy measures, PAME has a valuable role to play in providing insight and information to these and other fora.”

The draft Statement of Work for the project explains its 2019-2021 “Project Objectives” as:

“Using information from the PAME Arctic Ship Tracking Data (ASTD) project, and in collaboration with CAFF as appropriate:

  1. Obtain a better understanding of the underwater noise emissions (or ‘noiseprint’) from shipping in the Arctic.
  1. Identify areas where underwater noise from shipping and areas of heightened ecological or cultural significance (as identified by the Arctic Council) overlap and pose a risk.
  1. Based on the results obtained, and recognizing the limitations inherent to high-level analyses, investigate possible mitigation strategy options to    reduce the impact of underwater noise incidentally generated by shipping in the Arctic. Expert input and traditional and local knowledge will be used to inform any such options.”

This work will depend heavily on marine sound models, which “will be fit for purpose [to be discussed with potential contractors: year round, seasonal or both, as well as feasibility of the entire Arctic].”

The project deliverables are:

“ŸA report that determines, catalogs, and maps estimated noise emissions incidentally generated by commercial vessels in the Arctic, from 2013 to 2019.

  • A series of circumpolar Arctic acoustic intensity maps from ships based on available data, which spatially and seasonally depict and estimate underwater noise from commercial shipping.
  • Regional, finer scale acoustic intensity maps in areas of the Arctic that have hydrophone data which could be used in subsequent research to ground truth and calibrate the models used and maps produced. [quantity and locations to be discussed with potential contractors].”

An Annotation to the project’s draft Statement of Work explains:

“This draft Statement of Work is submitted by Canada and WWF to PAME for consideration and outlines the scope, timelines and deliverables for a specific     segment of work – underwater noise mapping – as part of the 2019-21 PAME project: Underwater Noise in the Arctic – Understanding Impacts and Mitigation Strategy Options.”

At the time this article was posted, there has been no public announcement that a contractor has been selected for this project

Unless otherwise noted, all quotations above are from PAME II-2019: Agenda 6.5(a), DRAFT Statement of Work, Developing Acoustic Intensity Maps for Shipping in the Circumpolar Arctic, which is available here.

The above-referenced Annotation is available here.

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