PROJECT PRESENTATION

Environmental Issue

Because of human activity, the sound intensity in certain sea areas increased by 20 decibels in the last 50 years. Studies in underwater bioacoustics demonstrated that noise pollution has dangerous consequences on marine wildlife. People usually think about marine mammals because of their hearing sensitivity and of their dependence on underwater sound to feed, migrate and communicate.

Scientific studies underline that underwater noise pollution, in particular low frequencies, has significant consequences on certain species of fish, turtles and cephalopods. The noise is a variation of pressure which can have consequences on the marine fauna from a simple annoyance to physical injuries on sense organs leading to loss of hearing sensitivity, trauma, embolism, etc. Those threats can cause disturbances of behaviour such as stress, flight behaviours, avoidance and can also lead to animal death.

Turbidity impact on marine ecosystems was also studied by scientists. Because turbidity blocks light penetration, it directly impacts the growth of benthic life. Materials in suspension in water modify the filtration capacity of bivalves and pelagic species distribution with a huge impact on young animals. Finally, turbidity frees chemicals substances trapped and accumulated for decades in the sea floor that can come in suspension in the sea column and then the human chain food. It can also reach mortal thresholds for living species.

This bioaccumulation phenomenon requires monitoring of water quality and marine sediments. Moreover, harbour zones are more affected by these pollutions and need particular attention.

Objectives

The aim of project AGESCIC is to address these issues thanks to a set of innovative solutions to highly reduce acoustic and turbidity impacts of coastal infrastructure construction.

The AGESCIC system combines three solutions:

  • SubSea Quieter, an innovative underwater noise and turbidity containment system
  • SmartPAM+, a smart connected buoy that monitors in real time the levels of turbidity and underwater noise to ensure conformity and alert if necessary. SmartPAM+ also monitors animal noises by passive acoustic to assess and reduce the impact of coastal works on the ecosystem
  • AVOREST, a system to reduce the impact on fish and recover the ecological functions of the work area


AGESCIC has four main objectives:

  1. 1. To adapt these three solutions to real sea and coastal works conditions, with a trusted and already operating actor
  2. 2. To manufacture, test and assess the performance of the AGESCIC System in real conditions. The solution will be deployed during a costal construction phase. Technical performances will be measured and the impacts on the local ecosystem will be evaluated.
  3. 3. To assess the environmental cost / benefit ratio of deploying the AGESCIC System on a European scale. The environmental benefits will be studied in 5 control sites selected in Europe. The results obtained from these 5 sites will then be extrapolated to all European coastal sites identified for the 2017 period.
  4. 4. To design the commercial development of AGESCIC System, which will provide environmental and employment benefits. The aim is to offer to European actors of the coastal construction industry a set of full service ready to use solutions, efficient and produced in Europe.

Actions list

  • To adapt these three solutions to real life conditions

We will base our work on the weather hydrological conditions identified in the pilot site and on the ecosystems present in the zone. We will also install all three systems as part of a full and complete solution thus addressing impact reduction with a global and coordinated approach. Partial components and/or parts of the system at a reduced scale will be manufactured and tested prior to the real-scale demonstrator.

  • Manufacture and deploy the systems in the pilot site

The AGESCIC Systems will be tested in real conditions.

Performance and the sea condition resistance of the SubSea Quieter system will be measured through dives and noise and turbidity measurement campaigns.

The data transmitted by SmartPAM+ and sensor calibration will  be used to assess the performance of the system.

Finally, the performance of the AVOREST systems will be evaluated through tests in the Mediterranean Sea and in the pilot site. The bioacoustics data collected near  artificial habitats combined with the sound attraction system will be analysed to validate the operational efficiency of the ecological restoration system.

The environmental impact reductions on the pilot site will be measured using the performance results obtained by AGESCIC components. It will then be compared to an existing and updated knowledge-basis gathering all noise and turbidity sensitive marine species. This comparison will help us to estimate the level of danger caused by coastal works on the ecosystem.

  • Evaluate the environmental and economic gains made by extending the solutions to the European scale

We will evaluate the environmental cost/benefit ratios based on:

- Studies and simulations of the devices used on 5 control sites in Europe 
- An in-depth adaptation study for 2 sites
- An updated knowledge-basis of all noise or turbidity sensitive marine species
- The results obtained on these control sites will be extended to all coastal work carried out in Europe in 2017 to assess the environmental and socio-economic benefits of this solution at a European level

  • AGESCIC after life plan: Create a spin-off offering the complete solution to European actors

In order for the project to have a real and major environmental impact, dissemination of project results is crucial. AGESCIC after life plan aims at developing and commercializing its solution to provide an efficient low cost solution for coastal works all around European shores.

Technologies presentation

SubSea Quieter

SubSea Quieter is a containement & mitigation system for small to very large marine areas, covering up to several thousand of m3. It is composed of a sea proven multilayer membrane reducing both acoustic pollution and turbidity propagation. This system is designed to last long periods and manage extreme sea conditions: tides, storms, ocean current, etc. SubSea Quieter offers a unique easy-to-use, resistant and disruptive solution suitable to any type of coastal infrastructure construction.

 

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AVOREST

The AVOREST system (AVOidance & RESToration) is designed to avoid impacts and restore ecosystem functions for coastal fish populations. The AVOREST system attracts marine fauna and offers safe shelters to repopulate shores impacted by anthropogenic activities. It uses biological replicated sounds to attract and develop a rich and diverse flora and fauna, at each stage of the coastal work progress.

 

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SmartPAM+

SmartPAM+ (Smart Passive Acoustic Monitoring) provides real-time acoustic and turbidity impact assessment and ecosystem monitoring. This system is made of a wireless autonomous buoy that measures, analyses and communicates in real time suspended particles and underwater noise levels.

 

More information

Macro Planning

2018

Coastal work impact on European ecosystem studies

Scientific knowledge gathering on acoustic and turbidity impacts over European coastal ecosystems

Mapmaking of 2017 European coastal work project: type, characteristics and place

Acoustic and turbidity theoretical impact studies on the ecosystem next to coastal works

2019

End of development and adaption of the 3 technologies 

SubSea Quieter: Impact containment & mitigation system

SmartPAM+: Real-time acoustic/turbidity impact assessment and ecosystem monitoring system

AVOREST: systems to avoid impacts and restore ecosystem functions for coastal fish population

2020

Real condition test in the pilot harbour         

Manufacture and implementation of the 3 technologies in the pilot harbour

Acoustic and turbidity levels measurement with and without SubSea Quieter

Impact assessment on the ecosystem with and without AGESCIC system

2021

AGESCIC after Life : beginning of the commercial phase

AGESCIC system’s performance assessment at the pilot site

Socio-economics impacts assessment of the project

Commercial phase kick off and adaptation studies for other European regions

Normative framework and coastal work impacts management guide drafting

ENVIRONMENTAL GAIN

The project main benefit is the protection and restoration of the environment around coastal maritime construction. Additionally to higher acoustic and turbidity mitigation levels, AGESCIC solution does consume less energy and creates less greenhouse gases than existing solutions. For a 6-month coastal work, it has been estimated that the AGESCIC solution will create 8.1t of CO² and consume 0.09GWh. ie, 99% less than bubble curtain, the most commonly used system for underwater noise mitigation.

The better implementation of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive thanks to this project will have direct effects on people, communities and companies directly impacted by the preservation of the environment.