leached from the sunken vessel and have been taken up by fish at concentrations now exceeding state fish consumption advisory levels. These documented PCB concentrations create hazards to human health and marine life.
Further, the 1996 London Protocol, which the U.S. has not ratified but has signed (showing agreement and intent to ratify), acts as an amendment to the London Convention and provides additional guidance to protect the marine environment from ocean dumping. The Protocol’s general obligations under Article III states: “Contracting Parties shall apply a precautionary approach to environmental protection from dumping of wastes or other matter whereby appropriate preventative measures are taken when there is reason to believe that wastes or other matter introduced into the marine environment are likely to cause harm even when there is no conclusive evidence to prove a causal relation between inputs and their effects.”6 The EPA’s approach to identifying trace contaminants to meet the London Convention requirements fully ignores the precautionary approach mandated by the Protocol. By ignoring the precautionary approach, the EPA allowed the Ex-ORISKANY to be sunk with an estimated 680,000 pounds of PCB contaminated material, only to rely on post-sinking studies to determine the impacts of dumping such toxic waste as sea.
Report to Congress, “The goal of this deepwater (Ex-FORRESTAL) reef project is to provide habitat for the protection and enhancement of deepwater snapper and grouper species.” 8
However, the Navy’s rationale for
vessels contradicts the
Gulf States (GSMFC),
sinking Marine which
protect and enhance species of fish, but rather attract species of fish.9 The attracting nature of the artificial reef can in fact be detrimental to species populations as concentrated populations can lead to fishing targets and thus overfishing, leading to a probable decline of
species within the vicinity of the reef site.10
Jeff Tinsman, the artificial reef coordinator for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources stated, "Artificial reefs are very popular with fishermen; they know they do provide a high
Artificial Reefs The Maritime Administration (MARAD) and Navy both suggest the act of sinking vessels at sea under the artificial reef designation, is considered placement of matter that serves as an alternative purpose other than mere disposal – that of enhancing and protecting ecological resources. The Navy claims “artificial reefs enhance ecological resources by increasing the amount of productive hard bottom habitat.”7 As the Navy further elaborates in its 2008
Traditionally, oil and gas platforms are removed after decommissioning, however, under the “Rigs to Reefs” program, platforms can be left in place or toppled to create artificial reefs. This artificial reef designation allows oil and gas companies to evade the costs associated with platform removal and absolve itself from any future environmental damage or liability. States use the Rigs to Reefs program to increase fishing opportunities, as rigs are popular fishing destinations in the Gulf of Mexico. Image Source: Flickr user mikebaird under Creative Commons agreement. http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikebaird/3898808431/
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/dfat/treaties/2006/11.html Navy Inactive Ships Program, Frequently Asked Questions, Artificial Reefing.
Report to Congress on the Progress of the Vessel Disposal Program, US Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration, January 2008, Pg. 26. Lukens, R.R. and Selberg, 2004. IBID.
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