Marine mammal's sustainability depends on their phenomenal abilities to transmit process and receive marine sound information. Sound is fundamental to their global navigation, breeding feeding and ultimate survival. The relentless increase in anthropogenic marine noise levels (from shipping, oil and gas, renewables, marine construction, military) and penetration to remote areas will be reviewed, and current discussions on “biologically significant effects” of cumulative noise on marine mammals populations will be considered as part of the current threats and concerns of scientists and stakeholders. Our knowledge of the effects on noise on the ecology of marine mammals will be summarised and critique given of current regulatory regimes which are inadequate to deal with the plethora of future sound issues, especially cumulative effects of multiple sources, or chronic stress effects on survivorship and reproductive success. Recognising the range of sound detection of species, sound budgets with limits on energy inputs in a geographic region with multiple sound sources may be considered as future control mechanisms Underwater acoustic modelling has developed and is a key element in building a risk exposure profile of marine mammals, and satellite linked tracking devices now allow wider insights into sound impacts on migratory species. Ultimately, GIS mapped sensitivity and species distribution data needs to be fully integrated with sound reception capacity of species from research data in order to understand the 3D sound risk-scape of the marine environment. Key gaps in sound data and research will be presented which need to be closed through industry cooperation, data sharing and ecosystem based management in order to decrease the uncertainty of potential threats to populations. If data is not forthcoming to aid responsible decision making, regulators may have no option other than a precautionary approach to safeguard species

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