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Assessment Framework for scientific research involving ocean fertilization agreed

32nd Consultative Meeting of Contracting Parties to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, 1972 (London Convention) and 5th Meeting of Contracting Parties to the 1996 Protocol thereto (London Protocol)

Briefing: 50/2010, October 20, 2010

32nd Consultative Meeting of Contracting Parties to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, 1972 (London Convention) and 5th Meeting of Contracting Parties to the 1996 Protocol thereto (London Protocol): 11-15  October 2010
 
An Assessment Framework for Scientific Research Involving Ocean Fertilization, designed to assess whether proposals for ocean fertilization constitute legitimate scientific research, has been adopted by Parties to the treaties regulating the dumping of wastes at sea.
 
The Assessment Framework was adopted as resolution LC-LP.2(2010), by the Contracting Parties to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, 1972 (London Convention) and to the 1996 Protocol thereto (London Protocol), which met in London, at the Headquarters of the International Maritime Organization (IMO)  from 11 to 15 October 2010 (LC 32/LP 5).
 
The Assessment Framework has been developed by the Scientific Groups under the London Convention and Protocol, as required under the 2008 resolution (LC-LP.1(2008)), which guides Parties as to how proposals they receive for ocean fertilization research should be assessed.
 
The 2008 resolution stated that ocean fertilization activities, other than legitimate scientific research, should not be allowed. The resolution followed previous discussions by Parties to the two treaties on planned operations for large-scale fertilization of the oceans using micro-nutrients – for example, iron – to sequester carbon dioxide (CO2). The 2008 resolution states that ocean fertilization activities, other than legitimate scientific research, "should be considered as contrary to the aims of the Convention and Protocol and do not currently qualify for any exemption from the definition of dumping".
 
The Assessment Framework provides criteria for an initial assessment of a proposal and detailed steps for completion of an environmental assessment, including risk management and monitoring.  Importantly, it does not contain a threshold below which experiments would be exempt from its assessment provisions.  Every experiment, regardless of size or scale, should be assessed in accordance with the entire Assessment Framework.  However, it is acknowledged that information requirements will vary according to the nature of each experiment.  It would be inconsistent with the Assessment Framework and resolution LC LP.1(2008) for Parties to establish their own national thresholds to exempt some experiments from the Assessment Framework at this time.
 
The adoption of the Assessment Framework is a further step in regulating ocean fertilization by Parties since initial discussions in 2007. The Parties also agreed that further work should be undertaken at an intersessional meeting of a working group on the regulation of ocean fertilization (scheduled for June 2011 in Montreal, Canada) to work towards providing a global, transparent and effective control and regulatory mechanism for ocean fertilization activities and other activities that fall within the scope of the London Convention and Protocol and have the potential to cause harm to the marine environment.
 
Revised Specific Guidelines for Assessment of Bulky Items adopted
The meeting adopted Revised Specific Guidelines for Assessment of Bulky Items, intended to assist Administrations when they are requested to provide a permit for dumping such items, which are those primarily comprising iron, steel, concrete and similarly unharmful materials for which the concern is physical impact, and limited to those circumstances where such wastes are generated at locations, such as small islands with isolated communities, having no practicable access to disposal options other than dumping.
 
Co-operation with IMO’s MEPC on spoilt cargoes and animal carcasses
Following the recent approval by IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of proposed amendments to revise and update MARPOL Annex V Regulations for the prevention of pollution by garbage from ships, which will be submitted for formal adoption at its next session in July 2011, the LC/LP Parties are working with the MEPC to collect information on spoilt cargoes being discharged or dumped at sea as well as information with respect to issues surrounding how animal carcasses are dealt with, in view of the proposed addition of discharge requirements covering the latter.  A joint questionnaire will now be sent to both LC/LP Parties and maritime Administrations to gather relevant information.
 
Status of London Protocol and Convention
The meeting noted that the London Protocol had now been ratified by 38 countries, representing 33.17 per cent of global merchant shipping tonnage and urged other countries to ratify the 1996 Protocol as soon as possible. The London Protocol will eventually replace the London Convention, which has 86 Parties representing 67.09 per cent of world merchant shipping tonnage.
 
New website
The Meeting noted that the website for the London Convention and Protocol was being updated and would be accessible at www.londonprotocol.imo.org
 
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IMO – the International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.
Web site: www.imo.org

For further information please contact:
Lee Adamson, Head, Public Information Services on 020 7587 3153 (media@imo.org )
Natasha Brown, External Relations Officer on 020 7587 3274 (media@imo.org ).
 
 

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IMO – the International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

Web site: www.imo.org

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For further information please contact:
Lee Adamson, Head, Public Information Services on 020 7587 3153 (media@imo.org)
Natasha Brown, Media and Communications Officer on 020 7587 3274 (media@imo.org).