I was recently scheduled to do some fieldwork in Canada, and this started with a calibration of our recording equipment. The calibration entailed projecting simulated clicks (from 10-150 kHz) to our hydrophones from a range of 1 m. These are brief, intermittent sounds that don't travel very far (due to being high freq) and are not the kinds of sounds that would cause auditory injury (PTS/TTS).

I have done this in the waters of Denmark and Scotland before, off a pier or a boat, no problem, but suddenly I find out that I'm meant to have a permit to do this in Canada. (Thankfully the working group already had the permit, but I was still surprised to hear about it!).

Does anyone know the processing times for such permits? How long do they last? Is it similar in the USA? In a place where licences are needed to project these innocuous sounds, is it a one-size-fits-all approach (i.e. where the same licence is used to project calibration tones as is used to do whale social playback experiments?). Thanks!


2 Answers 2


I am not surprised that someone insists you need a permit, but in the face of all the much louder and totally unregulated echosounders on essentially all boats, it is a strange requirement I posit.

  • $\begingroup$ Completely agree $\endgroup$
    – Chloe
    Jul 8, 2022 at 13:07

Yes, a funny and serious topic. For an experiment in a Swiss lake where we played test sounds including orca sounds, we had to get permissions and do lengthy risk assessments, including the question whether fish would be disturbed. The lake is very noisy due to pumps, chains, boats, UW-communications, echo sounders etc. It was no problem at the end, and permission is only required if you do a scientific experiment. In Switzerland even (scientifically) recording birds in the wood needs a permission. Then in Norway, no permit was required, because it was considered as "non-invasive". After some discussion we got a written statement that no permit was needed. The industrial fishing boats in Norway use very powerful sonars, and when I asked the fishermen if they need a license, they asked me where I am from...


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