Joint IPRC-Oceanography Seminar

January 30, 3:00pm - 4:15pm
Mānoa Campus, MSB 100 Add to Calendar

Philomène Verlaan
Visiting Colleague, Department of Oceanography
Senior Adviser, Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology, London, U.K.

“New International Regulation of Marine Scientific Research, Ocean Fertilization and Marine Geoengineering: Implications for Marine Scientists”

Abstract: Two international treaties specifically govern the dumping of wastes and other matter at sea. In 2007, faced with complaints about proposals by private companies to "sow" large sea areas with nutrients (still principally iron) to assess their effects, if any, on phytoplankton productivity and carbon sequestration, an activity colloquially described as "ocean fertilization" (OF), the parties to these treaties began the process of regulating OF under international law. On 18 October 2013, the parties to the most recent treaty adopted the following legally binding amendments:
•a definition of OF
•a prohibition on OF, except for an OF-related activity new to international law, i.e., "legitimate scientific research",
•an “Assessment Framework for Scientific Research Involving Ocean Fertilization”
•a definition of marine geo-engineering
•a definition of marine scientific research related to marine geo-engineering
•an overall prohibition of marine geo-engineering unless specifically authorized
•a provision for an “Assessment Framework” to regulate marine geo-engineering.

This presentation will discuss the implications for marine scientists of these very recent developments in international law. It will address: the criteria for “legitimate” research; the requirements in the assessment frameworks for permitting the proposed activities; what "a precautionary approach" to regulation of a new activity entails where considerable uncertainty exists as to the potential environmental effects of that activity; and in the broader climate change context, the effect on other proposed marine geo-engineering projects of a new international regulatory mechanism, with the jurisdiction to prohibit them for marine environmental protection reasons, which may not be overridden by claims of potential climate change mitigation. The speaker, who participated in these negotiations since 2007, will also discuss the vital role that marine scientists played in reaching an acceptable result for scientific research, and the great need for such continuing engagement by marine scientists in the international arena in order to ensure that marine scientific research can continue to be conducted efficiently.

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Oceanography, Mānoa Campus

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