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Assessment Framework

The Scientific Groups to the London Convention and London Protocol developed an Assessment Framework for Scientific Research Involving Ocean Fertilization. The Assessment Framework is designed to help regulators assess whether proposals for ocean fertilization constitute legitimate scientific research that is not contrary to the aims of the London Convention or Protocol. The Assessment Framework was adopted by resolution LC LP.2(2010) in October 2010 and is included as Annex 6 of the Report of the 2010 Meeting of the Contracting Parties.

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.2(2010) for Parties to establish their own national thresholds to exempt some experiments from the  Assessment Framework at this time.

An overview of this Framework is given in Figure 1 of the Assessment Framework. The elements of the Framework can be summarized as follows:

.1 The Initial Assessment determines whether a proposed activity falls within the definition of ocean fertilization and has proper scientific attributes, and thus is eligible to be considered and evaluated in this framework;

.1 The Problem Formulation describes the proposed activity and sets the bounds for the assessment carried out in subsequent steps;
.2 The Site Selection and Description outlines the criteria used for site selection and data necessary for describing the physical, geological, chemical, and biological conditions at the Proposed Site;
.3 The Exposure Assessment describes the movement and fate of added/redistributed substances within the marine environment;
.4 The Effects Assessment assembles the information necessary to describe the response of the marine environment resulting from ocean fertilization activities, taking into account the short- and long-term effects. This section describes the factors to be considered for the evaluation of the Impact Hypothesis;
.5 The Risk Characterization integrates the exposure and effects information to provide an estimate of the likelihood for adverse impacts and the magnitude of those impacts. The risk characterization should include a description of the uncertainties associated with its conclusions; and
.6 The Risk Management is a structured process following risk characterization designed to minimize and manage risk and implement appropriate monitoring and intervention and remediation strategies to manage risks, including mitigation and contingency planning. Risk management procedures, based on a precautionary approach, are necessary to ensure minimization of environmental risks;

The determination that a proposed activity is legitimate scientific research, and is not contrary to the aims of the London Convention and Protocol, should only be made upon completion of the entire Framework; and

.4 Results of monitoring
The collection and use of information resulting from monitoring informs future decision making and can improve future assessments.