Measurement of underwater noise arising from marine aggregate dredging operations

This is the final report for project MALSF MEPF 09/P108, funded by the Aggregate Levy Sustainability Fund, the aim of which is to provide data for the typical underwater radiated noise levels from marine aggregate dredgers in the UK fleet during normal operations. The work is aligned with the stated aims of the ALSFMEPF to reduce the environmental footprint of marine extraction of aggregates, and follows directly from the key knowledge gap identified in the initial scoping study conducted in MEPF Project 08/P21 [Thomsen et al, 2009]. The key finding of the study is the noise output of dredging vessels is similar to a ‘noisy merchant vessel’ and is substantially quieter in terms of acoustic energy output than some other anthropogenic noise sources such as seismic airguns and marine pile driving. This project has been an extensive study of the noise generated by the UK’s fleet of trailing suction hopper dredgers during marine aggregate extraction. The objectives of the work were (i) to develop a suitable methodology for measuring underwater noise radiated by dredgers, (ii) undertake measurements on UK dredgers at up to four sites and report, whilst disseminating the results to the wider stakeholder community. In the report, data is presented for 6 vessels, measured across 3 different areas around the UK’s coast.