world ocean day 2021

World Ocean Day 2021: 4 pathways to action for ship owners

Jun. 7 2021 - 6 min

On World Ocean Day, organizations and individuals are invited to assess their impact on the ocean. This year’s conservation focus – 30x30 – urges society to help protect at least 30% of the ocean by 2030. The initiative emphasizes safeguarding marine life and habitats, promoting biodiversity and limiting climate impact.

As a classification society, Bureau Veritas is committed to helping marine and offshore actors protect the ocean and minimize the environmental impact of their assets. In honor of World Ocean Day 2021, we are exploring key sustainability areas that enable ship owners to further improve sustainability and respect ocean flora and fauna.

Proving environmental best practice with the Ocean Approved® label

The ocean is a focal point for major issues related to climate change and biodiversity loss. To minimize our environmental footprint on the sea and its inhabitants, companies across sectors must assess their impact and take steps to reduce it.

In collaboration with the Fondation de la Mer and the French Ministry of the Sea, Bureau Veritas has launched the new Ocean Approved® label. This label recognizes companies undertaking concrete actions – e.g., reducing use of plastic materials, improving wastewater treatment and protecting coastal areas – to limit their impact on the ocean. To earn the label, companies must undergo an audit with an approved independent third party like Bureau Veritas, proving compliance with best practice standards and showing ongoing improvement.

Within Ocean Approved®, companies may be recognized at two levels. The “Committed” label distinguishes companies that have undertaken a materiality study and defined actions for improvement. The “Advanced” label distinguishes those who have effectively implemented the previously defined actions.

Limiting underwater radiated noise to protect marine life

One of the biggest impacts ships have on marine life is that of underwater radiated noise (URN). When ships sail, their engines and propellers emit noises at decibel levels equivalent to that of a rock concert or working construction crew. This can disrupt undersea creatures’ ability to forage, communicate and even migrate, from the smallest invertebrates and fish to the largest aquatic mammals. For animals like dolphins and whales reliant on echolocation, this can be especially harmful.

Given its effect on marine ecosystems and creatures, minimizing URN is a priority for preserving biodiversity. Limiting noise helps protect endangered aquatic species, such as those listed in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. Reducing URN also enables ship owners to advance the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal #14 for the conservation of life below water.

Bureau Veritas helps ship owners conduct URN measurements that account for engine and propeller noise, onboard machinery and equipment, and other flow noise. Based on this, owners can target URN reduction, minimizing noise and vibrations through a range of technical and mechanical solutions. Ships can earn our URN notation once improvements have been planned, made and assessed, proving a reduced impact on the sea’s many underwater species.

Protecting marine habitats from invasive species

Like all creatures, marine species are safest and most able to thrive in their natural habitats. The introduction of foreign or invasive species can harm existing species and degrade their environment. Ships have a responsibility to protect marine ecosystems by ensuring that aquatic creatures – even microscopic ones – are not transported between regions via ballast water[1].

To protect marine habitats, ship owners must comply with the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water & Sediments (BWM Convention). Bureau Veritas helps vessel owners develop and maintain a Ballast Water Management Plan throughout the ship life cycle, and provides expertise and certification services to Ballast Water Treatment System manufacturers. We offer technical and regulatory assistance, deliver type approvals and BWM certificates, and enable owners to plan regular surveys.

Guiding fishermen toward greater sustainability

Fishing activities can have a major impact on underwater life, causing declines in fish stocks, disrupting biodiversity and damaging marine ecosystems. At the same time, fishing is at the heart of many local economies, providing livelihoods and sustenance to people worldwide. It is therefore crucial to strike a balance between respecting the marine environment and helping communities thrive.

Bureau Veritas Certification and Bureau Veritas Marine & Offshore work together to help minimize the impact of fishing and promote sustainable fishing practices. Our experts provide certification to sustainable fishing standards like the Marine Stewardship Council, which promotes biodiversity and helps replenish fish stocks. We further provide social audits for fishermen and fishing vessels, ensuring that socio-environmental best practices are being respected.

Helping you achieve 30x30

Sustainability is a top priority for the maritime industry, and Bureau Veritas is committed to helping marine and offshore actors meet their targets for reducing environmental impact. We are pleased to play our part in protecting the ocean, its inhabitants, and the climate overall – on World Ocean Day, and every day.

[1]Ballast water is the river or seawater held in ballast tanks to provide stability and maneuverability when ships sail