Tackling anthropogenic underwater noise through the Convention on Biological Diversity: Progress and future development

Publication Name

Marine Policy


Anthropogenic underwater noise is a source of marine pollution that spans the world's oceans. It has the potential to cause harmful impacts to many types of marine animals, ranging from whales and other cetaceans to smaller creatures such as fish and invertebrates. Discussion of the problem in international fora has become increasingly common following sustained scientific investigations into the extent of underwater noise and the threat it poses to marine animals. This article discusses whether the most suitable international regulatory framework to address this problem is the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and its institutional measures. Although the CBD text does not expressly mention anthropogenic underwater noise, it can be argued that the convention's provisions are applicable to the problem. CBD provisions provide a useful general environmental protection obligation which can be a legal basis on which to create expectations to adopt specific measures aimed at reducing the extent, intensity or types of anthropogenic underwater noise to minimise impacts on species at risk. To this end, the process to revise the CBD's Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 presents a golden opportunity to strengthen the conservation of marine biodiversity against the threats posed by anthropogenic underwater noise. This article reviews the negotiation history of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and suggests how more explicit measures addressing the problem of anthropogenic underwater noise could be adopted within the CBD legal framework.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access



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Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

China Scholarship Council



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