[Coral-List] Artificial reef legislation

Iain Macdonald dr_iamacdonald at yahoo.co.uk
Tue Mar 30 00:17:18 EST 2004

I thought that if we were to have an AR thread somewhere there should be a mention of the legislation that governs them.


I can immediately think of two “treaties” that are relevant. The dumping of waste at sea (London 1977) and UNESCOs underwater cultural heritage (2001). The latter only applies to material older than 100 years. At the moment this seems irrelevant but in the bigger picture, our great grandchildren will be discussing this exact point. Whether they conserve the reefs as mans feeble attempts to help a doomed ecosystem or a valiant attempt at mitigating our impacts and the effects of climate change, is not the issue. The London Convention has been dragging its feet to get ratified but I asked the contact person to comment on our discussion and he replied


“You are advised that Contracting Parties discussed the issue of artificial reefs on several occasions.  Construction of artificial reefs is not regarded as "dumping" but as "placement of matter for a purpose other than the mere disposal thereof" under Article III(1)(b)(ii) of the London Convention 1972.  The Consultative Meeting of Contracting Parties, at its last three sessions held from 2000 to 2002, had not reached agreement on guidance concerning "placement of matter for a purpose other than the mere disposal thereof" or on the issue as to whether the London Convention covered "placement" activities.  However, the Meeting had developed the following elements of policy guidance:


.1            placement should not be used as an excuse for disposal at sea of waste materials;


.2            placement should not be contrary to the aims of the Convention;


.3            information of placement activities by Contracting Parties should be provided to the Secretariat, as available; and


.4            materials used for "placement" activities should be assessed in accordance with the relevant waste-specific guidelines.


The 25th Consultative Meeting (October 2003), requested the Scientific Group to consider, at its twenty-seventh session (which will be held from 3 to 7 May 2004) , the technical and scientific aspects of placement and artificial reefs, with specific concerns that placement should not be contrary to the aims of the Convention.  In particular, the Meeting was concerned that placement and artificial reefs that use waste materials should not be an excuse for sea disposal of waste materials.  The Scientific Group should assess technical and scientific information related to artificial reef development and placement activities in view of these concerns and assessment tools in the Specific Guidelines under the Convention.  In addition, the Meeting suggested the evaluation of possible beneficial uses such as the potential enhancement of ecological communities, including biodiversity.


On a more practical level some administrations use the guidelines for assessment of various wastes still eligible for disposal at sea for licencing of artificial reef construction.


In other words the discussion on artificial reefs will continue.” END QUOTE.  


So it looks like the people discussing artificial reefs at the highest level (being international law) have not finalised their views. A problem seemingly repeated in most circles. 


If there are other items of legislation that are relevant you may know of, please inform the list or me. 



Iain Macd.

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