PLOCAN in EU project focused on solutions for the reduction and mitigation of underwater noise from shipping

The Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands (PLOCAN) participates in the EU SATURN project, which is focused on the reduction and mitigation of underwater noise from shipping that threatens marine life.

PLOCAN is in charge of developing a Virtual Research Environment that collects and allows external users to access to the progress and to the results of the project.

In response to serious global concerns about the declining health of our oceans, the €8.96 million Horizon 2020 funded SATURN project, due to start in 2021, represents a significant EU investment that directly supports attainment of targets for a cleaner, quieter maritime sector.

PLOCAN’S Virtual Research Environment will consist in a resource hub for researchers (bio-acousticians, biologists, marine R&D engineers, etc.) to access SATURN results in an interactive way. It will include an advanced housing of technical and analytical tools for processing, analysis and visualisation of underwater noise from ships and boats produced by SATURN technical activities.

The environment will allow on-line collaborative experimentation with tools for acoustic signal processing and acoustic metrics relevant to the impact of underwater shipping noise on aquatic life. The environment will be deployed and hosted by PLOCAN and connected to the European Research Infrastructure GEANT network to facilitate the sustainability of SATURN results beyond the project lifetime.

The project, which is led by MaREI, Science Foundation Ireland’s Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine and hosted by University College Cork, involves a large consortium of EU participants which includes 20 project partners from 10 European countries. SATURN benefits from a uniquely integrated and interdisciplinary approach with acousticians, marine biologists, maritime engineers and standards bodies working side-by-side and in tandem with a large well-structured group of international stakeholders to create and test innovative solutions for reducing the most harmful effects of underwater noise.

Project lead and MaREI Research Fellow Gerry Sutton said “It is an absolute privilege to be leading such a talented and committed group of scientists and engineers. Everyone put 100% into the proposal, finding common ground by bridging traditional boundaries between their respective disciplines. This means we are now all very much looking forward to the new year when will jointly embark on our exciting four-year work programme.”

SATURN is responding to the present needs of EU citizens and safeguarding these for the future

The unique state-of-the-art technical approach of SATURN offers the European maritime transport sector a leap forward, focusing on reduction and mitigation of shipping noise output on the sound components that are likely to be causing the most harm. By assessing new technologies and providing support for policies to mitigate negative impacts of underwater noise from shipping and water-based transport, SATURN is responding to the present needs of EU citizens, markets and environments and safeguarding these for the future.

Dr Bob Flynn, National Contact Point for Horizon 2020 at Enterprise Ireland welcomed the announcement, “SATURN was ranked first ahead of all proposals submitted for this specific Horizon 2020 call and this success by MaREI brings Irish researchers to the forefront of addressing threats to the oceans biodiversity from underwater noise pollution. Enterprise Ireland was pleased to provide financial and technical support for the team to develop their proposal in line with our strategy for Horizon 2020 to support excellence in research with the objective of driving innovation and competitiveness across the Irish economy.”

Technical findings and breakthroughs that the project hopes to achieve

SATURN will be working towards uncovering the physical mechanisms of underwater noise production, methods for how the noise signature of individual ships can be assessed cost effectively, understanding how marine mammals, fish and invertebrates respond to various sound various levels and frequencies they receive, and real-life case studies to test the effectiveness of technical and operational efforts in reducing shipping noise through smart regional management policies.


SATURN has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101006443.

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