Nurture notes some controversy over LOHAFEX. We’re taken aback by this flagrant disregard of international law, says someone I’ve never heard of.
Well, my reading of COP 9 Decision IX/16, Section C (Ocean Fertilization), paragraph 4 is that it says it requests Parties and urges other Governments, in accordance with the precautionary approach, to ensure that ocean fertilization activities do not take place until there is an adequate scientific basis on which to justify such activities, including assessing associated risks, and a global, transparent and effective control and regulatory mechanism is in place for these activities; with the exception of small scale scientific research studies within coastal waters. So since it is merely a request or an urge, its not law (LOHAFEX news also makes the assertion that the document is not legally binding).
If we ignore that niggle, it comes down to whether the experiment fits under the exemption of with the exception of small scale scientific research studies within coastal waters. Its definitely a scientific study. “small scale” is a near meaningless term, but 20×20 km sounds pretty small to me – smaller than an ocean GCM grid box, anyway. And 20 tonnes is not a lot, either. OTOH it doesn’t look like they are going to be coastal: the pre-cruise booklet says they haven’t decided exactly where to do it, but it will be in an upwelling eddy in the Polar Front region north of South Georgia. Scientifically restricting things to coastal sites appears completely pointless – probably the text of the resolution at this point is some meaningless politicians bodge. The Indians assert that such experiments were to be restricted to coastal waters was perhaps an aberration, which has since been amended which sounds like wishful thinking to me; if there has been an amendation, no-one knows where it is.
Conclusion: seems fair enough to me. Don’t think the whingers have got a leg to stand on (or maybe they have one leg out of four to stand on, but thats not good enough to stop you falling over).
[Update: there is a whole blog about IF, but its badly out of date -W]