International Ocean Noise Coalition

The International Ocean Noise Coalition (IONC) is a partnership of over 150 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from around the world. With representatives on every continent, IONC was created to address the need for a global approach to combating human-generated (or "anthropogenic") ocean noise. Sources of underwater noise include intense active mid-range and low frequency sonar, ship traffic, use of explosives, underwater construction, offshore oil drilling, and seismic testing for oil and other related activities. Anthropogenic noise levels in the marine environment are increasing at an alarming rate. Ocean noise levels in some areas have doubled every decade for the past 60 years. There is mounting concern that noise proliferation poses a significant threat to the survival of marine mammals, fish and other ocean wildlife. Marine animals use sound to navigate, find food, locate mates, avoid predators and communicate with each other. Flooding their world with intense sound interferes with these activities with serious consequences. A growing body of scientific research confirms anthropogenic noise can induce a range of adverse effects in marine mammals and other ocean creatures, from disturbance to injury and death. To find out more information about ocean noise, click on the links below.

International Action on Anthropogenic Ocean Noise

Commentary on Ocean Noise

Scientific Papers on Ocean Noise

Regional Ocean Noise Issues

  • IONC partner the Hawaii Ocean Noise Coalition was formed in Spring 2007 to unite Hawaiians with a shared interest in ocean noise.  Hawaii has a large U.S. naval presence and is the site of RIMPAC - the largest war game exercises in the world which are held biannually in Hawaiian waters.

  • The US National Marine Fisheries Service Report on the 2004 Mass Stranding of Melon-Headed Whales in Hawai'i was released on April 27, 2006.  The Report stated that sonar was the "plausible, if not likely, contributing factor" in the causation of the incident in which 150-200 of the whales 'milled' in an unusual manner in the shallows of Hanalei Bay, Kaua'i island.

  • The US National Marine Fisheries Service Report and US Navy Joint Interim Report Bahamas Marine Mammal Stranding Event of 15-16 March 2000 found the animals had experienced some sort of acoustic or impulse trauma that led to their stranding and subsequent death and that the acoustic trauma was most likely as a direct result of exposure to tactical mid-range frequency sonars aboard U.S. Navy ships that were in use prior to the strandings.

  • Navy Planned Undersea Warfare Training Range to be located off the coast of North Carolina will be an active mid-frequency sonar training range. Covering over 500 square miles, the range will be used up to 161 times a year for up to six hours at a time. The purpose of the range is to train personnel on the use of active sonar to find, track and pursue submarines in the littoral (shallow) zone.

  • US Navy SURTASS Low Frequency Active Sonar use is currently confined to an area of the western Pacific Ocean established through a District Court Preliminary Injunction (November 2002). The area of operation has been expanded twice through Mediation Conference, most recently in August 2008.  In November 2005, the Navy published its draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement detailing its proposal to double the number of SURTASS LFA sonar systems and to expand the area of operation to global oceanic basins including the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans, and the Mediterranean Sea.

IONC Letters, Reports, Publications


(Europe, Middle East, Africa)
Sigrid Lüber
+41 44 780-66-88

North American Ocean Noise Coalition
Dr. Marsha Green
+1 610 670-7386

South American Ocean Noise Coalition
Elsa Cabrera
SAONC Website

Mexico/Central American Ocean Noise Coalition
Dr. Yolanda Alaniz
Laura Rojas Ortega

Pacific Islands Ocean Noise Coalition
Susan Millward
+1 202 337-2332

Listing of IONC Partners

Last Updated: January 2012

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