Mayo-Ramsay_Final_Thesis_and_papers.pdf (8.44 MB)
Ocean fertilisation : science and regulation
thesisposted on 2023-05-26, 00:09 authored by Mayo-Ramsay, JP
The threat of climate change may be the greatest social and environmental challenge of our time. Yet if the increase in warming is to be stabilised, then a reduction in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO\\(_2\\)) is needed. Sink technologies such as ocean fertilisation claim to do this by stimulating phytoplankton to grow into massive blooms, thereby drawing down large amounts of CO\\(_2\\) from the atmosphere into the deep ocean. But the science is unproven and concerns have been raised, not only about its feasibility, but also the environmental and legal implications. This thesis examines the process of ocean fertilisation and the capacity and effectiveness of current international and domestic legal regimes to regulate it. The science and feasibility of ocean fertilisation, primarily as a carbon mitigation measure, but also for carbon trading and seafood production, were considered. Three case studies were used as models to test how each legal instrument could be applied to the selected criteria to measure either capacity or effectiveness. Criteria were drawn from two critical areas of concern ‚ÄövÑvÆ the protection of the environment and enforcement. The research established that current Australian domestic law would most likely have adequate checks and balances to regulate ocean fertilisation activities within Australia's exclusive economic zone and territorial waters, with the exception of some external territories where compliance and enforcement may be problematic. The international law was found to be less effective; the main concern was the use of flags of convenience to bypass regulation on the high seas. Areas of conflict were found, particularly between ocean fertilisation for scientific research and commercial purposes. While there are no existing international legal instruments for ocean fertilisation generally, there is a framework for the assessment of ocean fertilisation for scientific research, leaving the future of commercial ocean fertilisation operations still undetermined. A model for the development of a new legal instrument to regulate ocean fertilisation activities, incorporating both research and commercial applications, was suggested.
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