Long- and short-term solutions for mitigating hazardous noise exposure and noise levels on board vessels from the small-scale fishing fleet of Newfoundland and Labrador

Lay Summary 

Fish harvesting in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) is prominently a small-scale industry. This is an important activity in rural NL, providing a means of livelihood and identity to many coastal communities. Fishing is also one of the most dangerous professions both in the province and worldwide, with a high incidence of reported casualties, accidents, and injuries. Among many health and safety issues of the fish harvesting profession, elevated noise levels pose a subtle threat. Prolonged exposure to noise is known to induce noiseinduced hearing loss (NIHL), and high noise levels are known to reduce the habitability of fishing vessels, increase fatigue, and ultimately add to the risk of accidents and injuries.


This PhD research aims to assess noise-related hazards on the small-scale NL fishing fleet (less than 24 m length overall) and to provide short-term (minimal vessel and gear modification, use of protection devices), and long-term (integration of an acoustic design for noise control on fishing vessels) solutions to mitigate on-board high noise levels and exposures.


The research features:


a) a comprehensive survey of noise levels and occupational noise exposures on-board a representative sample of 12 vessels, in order to identify the dominant noise sources, measure the in-situ acoustic insulation, assess the compliance with habitability criteria of living spaces and the risk of hazardous noise exposures;


b) the study of the perception of risk of noise-related hazards from owner/operators of the fleet;


c) the development of a numerical model validated using experimental data for the acoustic transmission and the study of possible noise control interventions to mitigate noise to acceptable levels on a case study vessel.


In this research activity a job-based method for noise exposure assessment was used, as opposed to the task-based method used in other studies on fishing vessels, and the noise components that lead to hazardous noise exposures were identified in order to provide effective solutions to mitigate noise exposure. Furthermore, for the first time, state-of-the-art Statistical Energy Analysis (SEA) and graph theory were used to model noise transmission on a small-sized fishing vessel and reveal the dominant noise transmission mechanisms. Based on these findings, effective noise control interventions were proposed and evaluated. These assessments are necessary to provide recommendations and guidelines, and introduce design and operational criteria to control noise levels on small fishing vessels from NL and worldwide more in general. Indeed, noise control solutions identified in the casestudy vessel can be used on similar vessels, and the numerical method based on SEA as shown in this research can be applied to design of noise control on new vessels.


The full report can be found here.


Adapted from https://research.library.mun.ca/14431/

Ocean and Naval Architectural Engineering
Newfoundland and Labrador
Hearing Loss
Fishing Industry
Vessels and Equipment
Start date 
1 Jan 2019
End date 
31 Dec 2020