Proceedings 2010/025

National Advisory Meeting on Ocean Fertilization Consequences and Impacts; September 29-30, 2009

Chairperson: Denis Gilbert


The Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter was adopted in 1972 (updated to London Protocol in 1996) to prevent marine pollution and prohibit deliberate dumping of wastes or other matter at sea, except by permit. In 2008, a non-binding resolution was adopted limiting ocean fertilization activities to “legitimate scientific research”. As a result, a Draft Assessment Framework for Scientific Research was developed for assessing scientific research proposals on a case-by-case basis. On September 29 and 30, 2009, Canadian academic and federal government scientists met in Ottawa, Ontario to discuss ocean fertilization and provide science advice to Canada’s delegation at the London Convention and to provide feedback to the Scientific Working Group on their Draft Assessment Framework. A discussion document, distributed prior to the meeting, examined the intended and unintended consequences of ocean fertilization and postulated the scale where a project would not cause irreversible and unacceptable harm to an open-ocean ecosystem. The document also examined the Draft Assessment Framework and considered priority areas for future research. There was consensus that fertilization experiments to date increase our understanding of ocean ecosystems and biogeochemical cycles, but provide little insight into the consequences of widespread ocean fertilization on the ocean system and global climate. Future scientific research on ocean fertilization should have both temporal and spatial restrictions and should focus on improving our understanding of ocean processes, not the viability of geoengineering. The Draft Assessment Framework was viewed as an acceptable mechanism for regulating scientific research in the open oceans The Science Advisory Report 2010/012, “Ocean Fertilization: Mitigating Environmental Impacts of Future Scientific Research” was a product of this meeting.

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