Noise in the oceans is an issue that has become the subject of concern in a number of national, regional and international organizations. However, the current scientific investigations surrounding the topic of noise pollution are currently inadequate because they are often limited in their application, contradictory in places, and some of the current research is tarnished by assertions which suggest that it has less than full integrity. Against such a backdrop, multiple sections of the international community are calling for a comprehensive, global and robust analysis of the issue.

This current impasse over the utility of the existing scientific material on noise pollution in the oceans, and the need for an internationally focused scientific endeavour to resolve the uncertainties, is not unique to this area. Rather, such impasses have a long history in a large number of areas in international environmental law. Accordingly, international environmental law and policy has developed a clear set of methods and rules to create reliable scientific reports, from which the political will to form agreements can be built. The necessary foundations from which reliable, internationally based, scientific reports are produced are strong membership of scientific bodies; the facilitation of independent scientific opinion; a deliberative process which is open and transparent; information that is publicly available; and, finally, as much financial independence as possible. If these five requirements are applied to the scientific investigation of noise in the ocean, the first step will be taken in building the foundations from which national, regional and international agreements may be formed to address this issue meaningfully.