December 2022 OES Beacon

IEEE OES at Sea Tech Week 2022

René Garello (Life Fellow – IMT Atlantique / IEEE OES), Christophe Maes (IRD), Philippe Courmontagne (Naval Group / IEEE OES)

Illustration 1: A partial view of the OES booth showing one of the European projects (Eurosea – the French section and OES chapter is involved with.


The Sea Tech Week (STW) conference is set every other even year in Brest, France. It has a very good relationship with OES, via an MOU we signed in 2009 for exchanging booths when OCEANS is in Europe (every other odd year) and helping develop sessions. This year STW (see at main theme was “Maritime transport: towards smarter and greener solutions”, and India was the featured country of honor. It was the opportunity to meet Dr. Atmanand who was the recent general chair of OCEANS 2022 in Chennai, India.

This year the OES French chapter organized two sessions during the conference:

“Marine Litter: Solutions for Monitoring, Mitigation and Prevention”, co-convened with the Laboratory for Ocean Physics and Satellite remote sensing (LOPS,, a joint unit between CNRS, Ifremer, IRD and UBO).

“Underwater noises: Understanding and Preventing it”, co-convened with Technopole Maritime du Québec (Canada) and Institut France-Québec Maritime (France-Canada)

Illustration 2: Young PhD student Daria, presenting her topic.

Marine Litter Session

The session on Marine litter and Marine Debris was focused on solutions. Indeed, while quantitative information on production and use of plastics is somehow available, the amount and fate of plastics discarded or leaked into the environment is highly uncertain. In particular, knowledge of how much plastics, at different scales down to micro and nano levels, reaches the ocean and the pathways and fate of such plastic in the ocean remain poorly known.

A focus is needed on how science and technology could quantify the pervasiveness of marine pollution and facilitate an understanding of the mitigating impact of reducing the stock of plastics in the ocean. The goals for meeting such a challenge go through the determination of a strategy for monitoring marine litter in the ocean and develop solutions for addressing the problem.

To this extent, the session touched on the diverse pre-requisite for creating the knowledge on marine debris and plastic in the ocean needed by societal stakeholders. The following topics were addressed:

  • Knowing where the pollution is and how much is observable.
  • Where does it come from?
  • Developing prevention and reducing the amount through adapted solutions.

The session ended with a Panel on Communication and Decision supports.

We had an attendance of 35+ all day long, and I’m proud to observe that, concerning the speakers, we had almost a Woman/Man parity. Here is the list of presentations, which will be available on the IEEE OES ‘Plastic in the Oceans’ Initiative website (

Illustration 3: Project Life PIAQUO presentation

Session a: Knowing where and how much

‘Tools for the monitoring of micro and macro plastics at sea.’ Sébastien Smet, Actimar, Brest, France

‘WERA HF Radar to support monitoring of marine litter and pollutants.’ Thanh Huyen Tran, Helzel Messtechnik GmbH, Kaltenkirchen, Germany

‘Remote Sensing Spectral Visibility of Plastics under laboratory conditions.’ James Delaney, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, United Kingdom

‘Towards the use of the giant clam T.maxima, as a biological integrator of environmental contamination in French Polynesia.’ Irène Godéré, Université de la Polynésie Française, UMR 241 EIO, Tahiti, Polynésie Française

Session b: Where does it come from?

‘Quantifying the Use Chains of Plastics and the Sources of Plastic in the Ocean.’ Hans-Peter Plag, MARI, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, USA

‘Fish & Click: how participatory science helps to map and inventory lost fishing gear.’ Marie Morfin, IFREMER, Lorient, France

‘Towards a new decision support tool for marine litter monitoring in the eastern English Channel.’ Sloane Bertin, Laboratoire d’Océanologie et de Géosciences (LOG), UMR 8187, CNRS, ULCO, ULILLE, IRD, Wimereux, France

‘Deep Learning approaches to simulate Lagrangian particle dynamics at sea surface.’ Daria Botvynko, ENIB, UMR CNRS 6285 LabSTICC, Brest, France

‘Monitoring and modelling the circulation of marine debris in Indonesia.’ Christophe Maes, LOPS IRD Plouzane, France

Session c: Preventing and Reducing

‘Deep learning-based approaches to detect floating marine debris for reducing marine pollution.’ Ramnath Prabhu Bam, Indian Institute of Technology Goa, Ponda, Goa, India

‘Preventing Plastic Pollution – a catchment-based approach to reducing the stock of plastics in the ocean.’ John Iwan Jones, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK

‘An agent-based modelling approach for maritime plastic recovery optimization.’ Loic Salmon, Isen Yncrea Ouest Brest, France

Session d: Communication and Decision support / Panel session

‘Towards Mitigation of Marine Litter: Increasing Social Capital Through an Ecosystem of Virtual Community Centers for Marine Litter.’ Hans-Peter Plag, MARI Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, USA

Illustration 4: Eric Baudin (Bureau Veritas) presenting PIAQUO

Underwater Noise Session

In the past hundred years, the anthropogenic noise introduced into the marine environment has reached unprecedented levels. Effects of shipping noise on individuals and populations range from communication masking, behavioural disturbance. Production of stress hormones, etc. which consequently negatively affect both the animal individual fitness and population dynamics.

World maritime traffic has increased sharply in the 20th century. It has grown from about 30,000 ships in the 1950s to nearly 95,000 today. This increase in traffic has resulted in an increase in the underwater noise generated by ships and therefore in the overall oceanic ambient noise. The figure most put forward by the scientific community is an increase of 3 dB (doubling of the acoustic energy introduced) per decade.

Marine animals, marine mammals, fish, invertebrates and sea turtles have a hearing apparatus and are able to listen to sounds in the frequency range of traffic noise. While Canada and the European Union has recognized maritime traffic noise as a marine pollution, the scientific community has shown that maritime traffic noise has negative effects on wildlife, especially Canadian endangered cetaceans (orca, beluga, North Atlantic right whale, blue whale). Adverse effects include the masking of animal communications, behavioural disturbances and physiological reactions. To date, the scientific community does not know how to translate these effects into impacts on the life cycle of individuals and populations. However, in accordance with the precautionary principle, solutions are already being sought to limit the ambient noise caused by traffic by mitigating vessel underwater noise.

The two main sources of noise radiated by underwater vessels are machinery and propeller cavitation. The noise radiated by a ship is described by its acoustic signature, defined as the sound that would be heard by an ear placed at the standard distance of 1 meter from the vessel.

The scientific community has produced several databases of acoustic signatures, the analyses converge on two conclusions. First, the noise radiated by ships has a great dispersion. Secondly, the noisiest quarter of ships is responsible for 80 % of the sound energy injected into the water by maritime traffic.

The purpose of this dedicated session concerned, on the one hand, all the systems or methods enable to prevent or reduce the pressure of shipping Underwater Radiated Noise (URN) on the marine environment and, on the other hand, all the methods allowing the quantification of the URN level. The latest advances in marine acoustics research were presented: passive and active acoustics, impacts of anthropogenic noise on marine organisms (from invertebrates to marine mammals) and also at ecosystem level.

Among other presentations, two main projects were presented.

Illustration 5: Cedric Gervaise (Chorus acoustics) during his plenary talk

The MARS Project

The MARS (Marine Acoustic Research Station) project focuses on the noise radiated by ships. The objectives are (i) to measure the acoustic signatures of a representative sample of the St. Lawrence fleet, (ii) to understand the origins of this underwater noise, and (iii) to propose mitigations with the project’s partner shipowners that are acoustically efficient, compatible with the vessels’ operations and offer co-benefits such as a reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

The MARS project is co-led by the Institut des sciences de la mer de Rimouski (ISMER) of the Université du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR) and the Centre de recherche appliquée Innovation maritime (IMAR) with the support of MTE and OPDAQ as well as shipowners (ALGOMA, CSL, Desgagnés, FEDNAV). The project is financially supported by Transport Canada and the Ministère de l’Économie et l’Innovation du Québec. The principles of the MARS project are objectivity and scientific excellence.

The project is centered around the construction and deployment of a world-class acoustic station in the St. Lawrence Estuary, a vital area for cetaceans, near Rimouski compliant with ANSI/ASA S12.64 2009 standard. Four autonomous 3-hydrophone vertical arrays will make it possible to measure the ambient noise and underwater acoustic signature from vessels. This acoustic station will be operated 6 months annually — from May to November until 2023. Its position in the center of the two shipping lanes enables the measurement of the acoustic signatures of the candidate ships without them needing to divert significantly.  Noise measurements can be done in less than 30 minutes.

The scientific program of the project is divided into 5 actions.

Action 1 concerns the acoustic station. It includes its design, annual deployment from May to November until 2023, maintenance and annual calibration.

Action 2 is dedicated to the measurement and interpretation of underwater radiated noise signatures. 150 to 250 signatures will be acquired per year according to the ANSI/ASA S12.64 2009 standard. These signatures are provided in near real time to the project’s partner shipowners. They serve as a support for a research activity to study the links between the acoustic signatures, the characteristics of the vessel and its conditions of operation and to optimize the measuring station by studying the relationship between the accuracy of the signatures and the complexity of the platform.

Action 3 is dedicated to the development, manufacture and installation of on-board instrumentation on ships to establish its vibratory and acoustic state.

Action 4 deploys the instruments on board partner ships, develops an analysis methodology and carries out vibration diagnostics (on up to 16 vessels).

Actions 3 and 4 follow steps of increasing complexity: test in the basin, test on ships at the dock, experiments on ships during operations especially during their passage in the acoustic station.

Action 5 synthesizes the knowledge produced from the MARS project to propose noise reduction solutions, and to implement them and measure their effectiveness. Action 5 addresses both the operating conditions (such as the speed of the ship) and maintenance (such as the condition of the propellers), the architecture of the ship (such as the vibration insulation of the machines). Action 5 searches for solutions that combine the reduction of underwater noise with other related benefits, such as the increase in comfort on board or the reduction of fuel consumption, in order to encourage the adoption of quiet technologies by shipowners.

The MARS project aligns with the Government of Canada’s priorities (Transport Canada (TC), Fisheries and Oceans Canada) regarding the protection of the oceans and its program to reduce disturbances caused by marine traffic and TC’s Quiet Vessel Initiative. It enables the development of research and innovation capabilities that are unique in Canada. It federates membership and attracts the support of domestic navigation professionals in Eastern Canada (Algoma, Canada Steamship Lines, Desgagnés, Fednav), as well as the Société de Développement Economique du Saint-Laurent (SODES).

The Project Life PIAQUO

The first one is the Project Life PIAQUO (Practical Implementation of Achieved QUieter Oceans). It is a European collaborative project aiming at reducing the issue of underwater noise and its impact on ecosystems.

Average level of noise in the most patronized seas has increased by about 20dB in the last 50 years.

The radiated noise of working and pleasure boats is the main factor in this growth of underwater noise. Marine areas with protected species and/or representing zones with major biological interests (reproduction, nursery, food…) are located nearby vessels’ routes. Recommendations were established to encourage underwater noise reduction generated by human activities and European regulation is going to oblige the establishment of ambitious actions in this field.  The European project AQUO (FP7) has created tools to estimate the noise generated by maritime traffic and to realize noise cartographies.

The Project has 5 goals:

Goal 1: Demonstration on two types of ships of the possibility to reduce on existing ships the underwater radiated noise thanks to the integration of new optimized propellers focusing on fuel consumption and Underwater Radiated Noise (hereafter “URN”) reduction

Goal 2: Demonstration of a real time on board self-estimation system, measuring the URN generated by the ship and detecting ship’s own cavitation

Goal 3: Implementation and evaluation of proactive ships underwater noise radiation incentives together with a data collection of actual URN measured with buoy on a long period of time

Goal 4: Implementation and evaluation of a real time ship traffic adaptation to the surrounding ecosystem, together with a passive acoustic cartography for shallow and deep waters designed with drones, ships and fixed observatories

Goal 5: Creation of impact cartography together with a web service used as a decision-making tool for institutional and private sectors actors

The session

During the whole day several plenary talks and technical presentations were delivered in front of an attendance of 30+:

Plenary talk on ‘The acoustic world of silence’, Cedric Gervaise, Chorus acoustics, France

Plenary talk on ‘The project Life PIAQUO’, Eric Baudin, Bureau Veritas, France

‘SubSea Quieter® Pile Driving: a disruptive, low cost and highly efficient noise mitigation system’, Damien Demoor, GREENOV-ITES, France

‘PIAQUO: Practical Implementation of the European project AQUO’, Philippe Courmontagne, Naval Group, France

Illustration 4: Eric Baudin (Bureau Veritas) presenting PIAQUO

‘On the role of the tailored Green’s function within underwater radiated ship noise prediction’, Nicolas Trafny, Naval Group, France

‘SHIP URN: UNIGE activities in the context of LIFE-PIAQUO project’, Michele Viviani, Università degli studi di Genova, Italy

Plenary talk on ‘The Marine Acoustic Research Station (MARS) project: a unique infrastructure to determine the noise generated by ships and search for mitigation solutions’, Guillaume St-Onge and Sylvain Lafrance, ISMER-UQAR, Canada

Plenary talk on ‘MARS station: A real time long-term equipment to measure URN following the standard ISO/ASA’, Cedric Gervaise, Chorus acoustics, France

Illustration 5: Cedric Gervaise (Chorus acoustics) during his plenary talk

‘Assessment of the St. Lawrence soundscape at the MARS station’, Jeanne Merindol, ISMER-UQAR, Canada

‘Analysis of 36 URN signatures collected in 2021 with the MARS station’, Cedric Gervaise, Chorus acoustics, France

‘A specific development of inboard vibration and acoustics sensors to identify sources of URN’, Jean Christophe Gauthier Marquis, IMAR, Canada

‘Detection of cavitation from inboard measurements’, Kamal Kesour, IMAR, Canada

‘Silence of Global Oceans: Acoustic Impact of COVID-19 Lockdown’, Artash Nath, Monitor My Ocean, Canada

‘Underwater noises monitoring using DORI underwater acoustic recorders’, Caroline Magnier, ABYSSENS, France

‘Experimental study and control of a hydrofoil generating a tonal noise’, Paul François, Ecole Navale, France