At the beginning of this week, ETC Group learned that the RV Polarstern, a German research ship with a crew of 32 geo-engineers was about to leave Cape Town in South Africa for a 70-day voyage to Punta Arenas in Chile. Their aim is to dump iron sulphate in 300 square kilometres of the Scotia Sea off the coast of Argentina. This is part of an ocean fertilization experiment, code named LOHAFEX, that is co-sponsored by the Indian and German governments. The experiment is targeted for the high seas but there is some concern that the experiment may also affect the territorial waters of Argentina. If the LOHAFEX experiment goes ahead, it will breach the global moratorium on ocean fertilisation activities agreed last May by 191 governments at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and it will defy the agreements made by parties to The London Convention against dumping of wastes in the sea (a treaty of the International Maritime Organisation).
You can read more about the Lohafex expedition and how it is breaching the moratorium here.
ETC Group and our allies in Germany, India, South Africa, Argentina and the EU have spent this week raising our concerns with the three governments sponsoring and aiding this illegal geo-engineering experiment: Germany, India and South Africa. We have requested that they respect the moratorium they agreed to last year and instruct the Polarstern to turn around and unload its cargo of iron sulphate.
We have yet to receive any official reply from the governments involved. Live tracking of the RV Polarstern via the Internet shows that the geo-engineers are still headed full steam for the Scotia Sea.
You can track the RV Polarstern yourself at:
http://www.sailwx.info/shiptrack/shipposition.phtml?call=DBLK or http://www.awi.de/en/infrastructure/ships/polarstern/where_is_polarstern/
We are now asking for as many people as possible -- as individuals, through civil society organisations and through your governments -- to write to the German, Indian and South African authorities urging them to respect the agreements they made to enact a moratorium on ocean fertilization activities on the high seas. (Contact information below.)
Keep up the pressure and encourage others to write to the German, Indian and South African governments until we see the RV Polarstern turn around to the port.
Please write to the Ministers of Environment in Germany, India and South Africa expressing your concern and requesting that the RV Polarstern return to port and offload its cargo of iron sulphate.
You may wish to point out that the LOHAFEX expedition is breaching the CBD's moratorium on ocean fertilization and the London Convention agreement in at least the following ways:
1) It is targeting the high seas
2) It is taking place before any effective global regulatory regime or any rules for assessing environmental impact have been developed
3) There has been no decision as to whether 300 square kilometers constitutes small or large scale
4) The potential environmental effects have not been properly assessed
You may also wish to point out that geo-engineering approaches such as ocean fertilization are the wrong response to solving climate change and could further damage and de-stabilise ocean ecosystems and the climate.
Please consider copying any emails to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can track how many people have expressed their concerns.
Contact details for the Ministers:
Minister Sigmar Gabriel
Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety
Address: Sigmar Gabriel, MdB
z.H. Sören Heinze
Platz der Republik 1
Tel.: +49 (0)30 227 – 75311 / - 75312
Fax.: +49 (0)30 227 – 76310
Dr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of India and Minister for Environment and Forests
Address: Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India,
Room No. 152,
New Delhi, 110001
Tel +91 11 23012312
Fax: +91 11 23016857
Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk
Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
Address: Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk
Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
Private Bag X447, Pretoria 0001
Private Bag X9154, Cape Town 8000
Fax: +27 (0)12 322 0082