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10

2011

DISHONORABLE DISPOSAL

concentration of fish available for harvest."11 Further, Tinsman said that the sinking of 600 subway cars off the coast of Delaware to create an artificial reef increased the number of annual angling trips from 300 to 13,000.12

Thus the real alternate use benefits of artificial reefs are not to the marine ecosystem’s health, but rather to fishermen who can more efficiently harvest fish that are attracted to the artificial reef. Altering an ecosystem in this manner, can be considered a form of ocean pollution as this concentration of fishery resources, for the short-term economic benefit to any given region, leads to the depletion of fishery resources and permanent destruction of natural habitat. Therefore, the placement of artificial reefs, such as naval vessels, is contrary to the aim of the London Convention by creating hazards to living resources and marine

life by promoting overfishing.

Secondly,

the

very

notion

enhancement, as claimed by

of ecological artificial reef

advocates, is contradiction in terms unless a case can be made that the human activities in question return damaged environments back to their natural former state. Nature and the environment are considered absolute states – a

Tanks are pushed off a barge in South Carolina; artificial reefs are the justified ocean disposal purpose. Image Source: U.S. Army Environmental Command Flickr photostream

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/08/060818- subway-reef.html http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN1643767620080517 11 12

BASEL ACTION NETWORK

state absent of human interference that requires

protection

from

human

meddling,

not

enhancement based on human value judgments imposed on it by a particular interest group such as divers or fishermen.

In the case of artificial reefs, replacing one natural ecosystem with another unnatural ecosystem because humans desire to attract certain species or to entertain divers is not an appropriate alternate use as it is inimical to true environmental protection. The ocean environment, being largely out of sight and out of mind to most of us, seems the only place where such proposals are taken seriously. We as a society would not likewise accept dumping old locomotives or automobiles in the deserts of our Southwest, presumably to attract migratory birds for the interest of hikers or hunters.

The dumping of societal wastes into nature for any purpose sends a very dangerous cultural message that the natural world, and in particular our marine environment, can be exploited as the solution to our growing waste problem. The notion that nature can be improved upon by artificial constructs is likewise a dangerous one as it presupposes that humans understand ecology fully and that nature should not be preserved to the extent possible as it is, regardless of whether human beings value it in its natural state or not. A spokeswoman for the Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands office, which manages the state-owned bottom of Puget Sound, said, “We don’t advocate putting

foreign objects into the changes the dynamic ecosystem.”13

water because it

of

the

marine

Further, if the alternative purpose of artificial reefs could be justified as a legitimate alternative use other than mere disposal, one would then have to consider the matter of contamination, which under the London Convention cannot “create hazards to human

13

http://crosscut.com/2009/09/11/ferries/19205/?pagejump=1

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