Ospar Commission
Friday Ocean Findings Issue 52: OSPAR's Environmental Impacts of Human Activities Committee
OSPAR’s Environmental Impacts of Human Activities Committee (EIHA) met in Madrid from 15-19 April 2024 in Madrid (Spain).

EIHA covers OSPAR’s work on a wide range of pressures affecting the North-East Atlantic such as marine litter, offshore renewables, underwater noise, and impacts on threated and declining species and habitats.

EIHA welcomed the publication of a background document on subsea cables within the OSPAR Maritime Area which included technical considerations and potential environmental impacts. This timely publication was produced with the support of OSPAR observer organisation, the European Subsea Cables Association (ESCA)

Work to protect marine birds also progressed as EIHA identified task leads to work on elements of OSPAR’s marine bird recovery action plan which will now be further discussed at the OSPAR Commission meeting in June. Further positive news for marine birds, which OSPAR assessments show are in trouble in the North-East Atlantic, came from EIHA’s offshore renewables group who announced the start of its pilot project on the cumulative impacts of offshore renewables on bird populations.

On marine litter EIHA agreed an ambitious regionally coordinated quantitative reduction target for marine litter on beaches of 70% by 2030. EIHA also approved a Common Indicator on microliter (including microplastics) in seafloor sediment and will recommend a number of Background Documents and draft measures relating to marine litter to the OSPAR Commission meeting for agreement in June 2024.

Further work is progressing on an action plan for noise under EIHA’s noise expert group. A well-developed set of concept actions was noted, and the experts will now consult on the proposal before further refining the action plan in the coming year. EIHA also approved a new chapter on shipping noise for the Inventory of measures to mitigate the emission and environmental impact of underwater noise.

The committee discussed its priorities for addressing new, emerging and increasing activities such as aquaculture, deep seabed mining, geoengineering and renewables; and how to resource this expanding remit of the committee to meet the challenges facing the North-East Atlantic.

Finally, EIHA thanked Deputy Secretary, Philip Stamp, who is leaving OSPAR after 6 years and welcomed his replacement Maude Jolly. Thanks was also extended to EIHA Chair, John Mouat.
OSPAR Commission
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