Shipping and Seismic Exploration Noise in the Arctic Marine Soundscape: A look at Mitigation Measures for Cetaceans [graduate project].
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Increasing levels of anthropogenic noise in the Arctic marine soundscape can have negative effects on cetaceans that have adapted to a relatively pristine acoustic environment and are unaccustomed to the loud, low frequency sounds associated with activities such as shipping and seismic surveys. This issue was explored first through a literature review on topics related to anthropogenic noise impacts on cetaceans in the Arctic and the three types of mitigation measures; operational, source-based and geographical. A review and analysis of some international, regional and national regulatory bodies and policies related to the management of anthropogenic noise impacts in the marine soundscape in the Arctic region was completed, including a comparison of three seismic survey specific guidelines from Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. Finally, recommendations on how management and mitigation policies could be improved at the international, regional and national level are provided. At the national level for example, after comparing the three seismic survey policies it was determined that Canada would benefit from a seismic survey policy specific to the Arctic that utilizes all three types of mitigation measures to address the unique challenges and characteristics of this region. Regionally, it is recommended that the Arctic Council establishes minimum mitigation and management standards for all member states, creating a united effort to address this transboundary issue. At the international level anthropogenic noise and its effects on cetaceans in the marine soundscape is not widely recognized as a significant problem and therefore it is recommended that the various international bodies and organizations include anthropogenic noise mitigation and management within any future policies, guidelines or recommendations. Finally, it is generally recommended that all mitigation or management policies and guidelines be based on scientifically informed decision making and the precautionary principle.