GALAPAGOS ISLANDS, Ecuador -- An unwelcome ship is presently heading towards the Galapagos Marine Reserve to conduct a dangerous experiment by illegally dumping 100 tons of iron dust into the sea in an area 350 miles west of the Galapagos. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is opposed to experimentation that may have negative consequences for marine ecosystems and plans to block the action through its project called "Operation Aquatic Iron Dust Storm."
In June, the 19 Galapagos Islands and the Galapagos Marine Reserve's (GMR) inscription was changed by UNESCO to a World Heritage Site in Danger. Despite this, Planktos Inc., (a for-profit enterprise which calls itself an eco-restoration company, based in the United States), has targeted the international waters 350 miles west of the GMR as the area to conduct experiments in seeding the oceans with iron dust to accelerate the production of phytoplankton. This activity is not lawful under U.S. law – specifically the U.S. Ocean Dumping Act – and for this reason, the company will be using a non-U.S. flagged vessel and will be transhipping the iron dust from a foreign port outside of the U.S. Because the iron dust is material that originates from the U.S., the company will still be in violation of U.S. law.
The ocean dumping plan by Planktos Inc. is a violation of the London Protocol and of international regulations that prohibit ocean dumping. Sea Shepherd's ship the Farley Mowat is already crewed by international volunteers and is currently in the GMR. The Farley Mowat will monitor the movements of Planktos Inc. and plans to intercept the vessel in the predetermined area. Sea Shepherd, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Charles Darwin Foundation, World Wildlife Fund, and the Galapagos National Park have all expressed concern that this experiment represents a threat due to unknown effects it could have on marine life and other ecosystems in the Galapagos. Planktos Inc. does not have an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which would guarantee that no harm would be done to the GMR.
"Sea Shepherd views this plan by Planktos Inc. as a scam to take money from corporations in return for carbon credits earned for lowering carbon emissions supposedly to slow down global warming despite the fact that there is no scientific evidence to suggest that this will work," said Captain Paul Watson, founder and president of Sea Shepherd. "Sea Shepherd's primary objective is to investigate and intervene against activities that are in violation of international conservation law and protect ocean ecosystems."
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