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Underwater noise from fairways

Instruments, incentives, and systems to reduce environmental impact

As the shipping industry expands so does the consequence of noise pollution under water, throughout the oceans. This project aims to reduce the noise under water and its environmental impact in Swedish waters, so that environmental quality standards can be met in the future.

Underwater noise is a growing environmental pollutant that affects marine life, but emissions regulations, and governing incentives are lacking. Ships are the predominant source of underwater noise, but the shipping instruments are voluntary, and measures to reduce noise are rarely implemented. Thresholds will be introduced in future environmental quality standards for underwater noise.

IVL Swedish Environmental Institute is leading this project and, in collaboration with Sjöfartsverket (The Swedish Maritime Administration), wants to produce proposals on how underwater noise should be handled and controlled at a national level. The goal is to meet the environmental quality standards. The project brings together actors affected by underwater noise and presents a proposal for how this goal can be achieved with a focus on control, follow-up, and various measures.

IVL and Sjöfartsverket have a vision that Sweden will be the first country to introduce incentives and measures to reduce underwater noise from fairways. Together with a broad collaboration between authorities, research institutions, and the business community, the project wants to implement this by designing financial incentives for reduced underwater noise and introducing these in Swedish fairway fees for ships. This is supported by research on the environmental impact of underwater noise and how waterways can be adapted to reduce this environmental impact.

The project is a feasibility study, which lays the foundation for a future implementation project. We will investigate:

  • How underwater noise can be introduced in the environmental index Clean Shipping Index, so that silent vessels are rewarded via lower fairway fees.
  • How management and regulation of underwater noise can be designed so that it is relevant and effective, and accepted by all actors.
  • How fairways in shallow water can be designed so that the spread of underwater noise is reduced.
  • How the research into underwater noise from ships and the environmental effects of this need to be supplemented to form a good basis for future regulation.

Project facts

  • Underwater noise from fairways - instruments, incentives, and systems to reduce environmental impact
  • Budget: 1,5 MSEK
  • Financier: Formas
  • Partners: Sjöfartsverket (The Swedish Maritime Administration.)
  • Period: 2021 - 2023


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