Government of Canada announces funding for innovative projects to help reduce underwater noise from marine vessel traffic


The Government of Canada recognizes that underwater noise can have a significant impact on marine mammals, including endangered species such as the North Atlantic right whale and the Southern Resident killer whale.

The 22 projects selected for funding under Transport Canada’s Quiet Vessel Initiative will support the development of new quiet vessel technologies, designs or operational practices.

Projects include:

  • American Bureau of Shipping: $150,000 – The organization will conduct investigations to characterize the sources of underwater noise from the current fleet of vessels specifically focusing on propeller and hull-mounted machinery noises. Results will help improve the prediction of underwater noise from current vessel designs, assess the effectiveness of current noise measurement standards, and guide the optimization of future quiet vessel designs.
  • BPE Technologies, Inc: $150,000 – The organization will develop a real-time tool to monitor a vessel’s underwater noise performance. Testing and trials will verify whether their technology can quantify the effectiveness of new vessel designs, retrofits, or operational practices aimed at reducing underwater vessel noise. Awareness of underwater radiated noise and its impacts on the marine environment will be disseminated through technical presentations, articles, and social media.
  • Cellula Robotics: $150,000 – The organization will install hydrophones and other equipment onto a “Solus-LR,” a Hydrogen-Powered Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, to conduct a two-week operation to collect background acoustic and environmental data in Southern Resident killer whale habitat. The data will be made available to support future research into the effects of vessel traffic on orca populations. It will also demonstrate the viability of zero-emission technology for use in monitoring underwater vessel noise.
  • Clear Seas: $150,000 – The organization will develop a new software tool to identify and predict different human-made underwater noise sources, including construction, blasting, and vessel traffic. The tool could be used to model different potential mitigation strategies and enable an adaptive management approach to reducing noise across regions. This tool is expected to help government and industry develop new approaches to address underwater noise on a regional basis.
  • Dalhousie University/Intelligent Systems Laboratory: $150,000 – The institution will develop a new shallow-water underwater noise measurement technique. If successful, it could significantly advance industry’s efforts to develop mitigation solutions and monitor their effectiveness in a more cost-effective manner.
  • Det Norske Veritas (DNV AS): $150,000 – The organization will develop a real-time tool to monitor and track a vessel’s underwater noise emissions. Results could be used by vessel operators to mitigate their ship’s impacts on the marine environment, and by regulators to help understand how, when, and where noise is being generated, and how to effectively mitigate it.
  • DW Ship Consult: $150,000 - The organization, in partnership with Eagle Wing Tours and JASCO Applied Sciences, will undertake a study to develop recommendations for quiet vessel designs including design and propulsion recommendations for newly built whale watching vessels, suitable and effective noise reducing retrofit measures, and best-practice guidance for vessel operations.
  • DW Ship Consult: $150,000 – The organization, in partnership with Eagle Wing Tours and JASCO Applied Sciences, will study the potential noise-reduction benefits of water jet propulsion systems for whale watching vessels. The project will investigate whether a water jet propulsion system produces lower underwater radiated noise versus ships equipped with conventional propellers. Results could lead to a new quiet vessel propulsion device and help whale-watching operators reduce their impacts on the vulnerable whale species.
  • Innovation Maritime: $150,000 – The organization will conduct laboratory testing to assess the effectiveness of different novel underwater vessel noise solutions. Results will help vessel operators understand how changes to their vessel’s operations, maintenance practices, or designs could reduce noise and its impacts on the marine environment and vulnerable marine mammals.
  • Lloyd’s Register Applied Technology Group/Martec Limited: $150,000 – The organizations will develop a new real-time monitoring tool that will expand the tools available to small-craft vessel operators and help them reduce their vessels’ impacts on the environment, particularly when travelling in proximity to endangered marine mammals, or in their critical habitat.
  • Lloyd’s Register Applied Technology Group: $150,000 – The organization will conduct research to develop a new propeller design for the marine industry and explore the feasibility of constructing propellers from new “composite materials” that maintain overall efficiency, while simultaneously reducing the noise they generate. This project will help promote environmentally and economically sustainable shipping practices.
  • Martec Limited: $150,000 – The organizations will conduct trials to assess the effectiveness of “propeller cages,” or enclosures that surround a propeller, in reducing underwater vessel noise, and if successful, develop guidance tools for their implementation moving forward, with a focus applied to fishing and whale-watching vessels.
  • Memorial University of Newfoundland: $66,700 – The institution will host a series of Canadian workshops with key stakeholders to identify safe, achievable, and practical approaches to mitigating underwater vessel noise. Results will help build domestic capacity in this emerging field, enable knowledge sharing, and establish workshops for ship designers to discuss the optimization of “vessel quietness” as well as construction and operational costs.
  • Memorial University of Newfoundland: $146,050 – The institution will develop a series of online training materials to help educate the Canadian marine industry, marine engineers, and non-technical experts about underwater vessel noise including its sources, impacts, and potential mitigations. The project will address knowledge gaps and raise awareness within Canadian industry about underwater vessel noise and methods to address it through improvements to vessel design, operational practices, and maintenance procedures.
  • Ocean Wise Conservation Association: $149,975 – The organization will develop a new real-time tool to detect marine mammals, and to notify nearby vessels of their presence. This project will provide a framework for the development and testing of cetacean alert technology in other areas of the world where vessels operate in endangered marine mammal habitats. It will further advance Canada as a global leader in marine mammal protection and adopting sustainable shipping practices.
  • Rising Tide BioAcoustics Inc.: $149,500 – The organization will demonstrate an experimental active-noise-cancellation system for use in an underwater environment. The project will adapt technologies currently available in the commercial market in order to assess whether they can be applied to commercial vessels operating in critical marine mammal habitats.
  • Robert Allan Ltd.: $150,000 – The organization will assess and demonstrate the feasibility of technologies to reduce the underwater noise generated by tugs, including commercial harbour and escort tugs. The project will develop new modelling tools to help design the next generation of quiet tugs, including those that could operate on zero-emission, battery-electric power.
  • Schottel: $150,000 The organization will assess the noise reduction achieved through the installation of a redesigned propulsion system. The data produced will enhance the accuracy of underwater noise prediction methods.  Results will also be used in the development of a prototype real-time noise monitoring tool that will alert vessel operators when their ship exceeds critical sound thresholds. These alerts will help vessel operators mitigate underwater noise impacts in critical marine mammal habitat.
  • SLR Consulting Ltd.: $136,792 – The organization will develop a series of educational tools and outreach products to increase knowledge and awareness about the impacts of underwater noise with a focus on helping the marine industry embrace new technologies, as well as operational, and maintenance practices to mitigate the impacts of underwater vessel noise on the marine environment and vulnerable marine mammals.
  • University of British Columbia Department of Mechanical Engineering/Vard Marine Inc.: $150,000 The university will develop new software tools based on machine learning algorithms to help vessel designers predict and characterize underwater vessel noise performance early in the design stage. This will identify potential sources of vessel noise, including on-board machinery and propeller noise. Better design models will help industry ensure that the next generation of ships embrace “quiet” technologies, while maintaining safety, productivity, and environmental performance.
  • Université du Québec en Outaouais: $150,000 – The institution will study noise generated by the ferry fleet operating in the summer habitat of the St. Lawrence Estuary Beluga (SLEB). The university will deploy underwater listening equipment to study noise generated by different ferries, and subsequently publish studies to help government and industry better understand the impacts that these ships have on vulnerable marine mammals. Results will help inform mitigation strategies for ferries operating in the SLEB’s critical habitat.
  • University of Victoria Department of Mechanical Engineering: $150,000 – The university will develop open-source design and engineering tools that will help industry to better predict the underwater noise profile of vessels during the design phase.  Results will enable industry to construct new ‘quiet’ vessels, while maintaining fuel efficiency and reducing emissions. The project will develop two software tools that model key physical features of flows around marine propellers and interactions between turbulence, cavitation, and underwater noise; as well as predict acoustic performance of propellers over a broad range of operating conditions

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