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Underwater noise mitigation in the Santa Barbara Channel through incentive-based vessel speed reduction.


Commercial shipping is the dominant source of low-frequency noise in the ocean. It has been shown that the noise radiated by an individual vessel depends upon the vessel's speed. This study quantified the reduction in source levels (SLs) and sound exposure levels (SELs) for ships participating in two variations of a vessel speed reduction (VSR) program. SLs and SELs of individual ships participating in the program between 2014 and 2017 were statistically lower than non-participating ships (p < 0.001). In the 2018 fleet-based program, there were statistical differences between the SLs and SELs of fleets that participated with varying degrees of cooperation. Significant reductions in SL and SEL relied on cooperation of 25% or more in slowing vessel speed. This analysis highlights how slowing vessel speed to 10 knots or less is an effective method in reducing underwater noise emitted from commercial ships.

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