The precautionary approach with respect to dumping
is one whereby appropriate preventative measures are taken when
there is reason to believe that waste or other matter, introduced
to a marine environment, is likely to cause harm. This applies even
when there's no conclusive evidence to prove a causal relation,
and so it places a fairly onerous obligation on Contracting Parties
to be conservative.
An additional consideration is that the polluter should, in principle,
pay the cost of pollution. This means that if an entity or government
undertakes an activity that turns out to be harmful, then that country,
government, or whoever was responsible, would, in principle, have
to bear the cost of damages.
Parties also shall not act so as to transfer directly or indirectly
damage or likelihood of damage from one part of the environment
to another, or transform one type of pollution into another. This
is also one of the articles in the Law of the Sea, and I suppose
it's a consideration at least, whether deliberately removing CO2
from the atmosphere, if it were regarded as a pollutant, and putting
into the ocean, would come under this article or not. I think that
may be stretching the intent of the article a bit.
U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea is the bible of intergovernmental
law concerning international waters. Everything relating to iron
fertilization will be covered, at least in general terms, under
this Convention. It was a terrific undertaking and achievement to
get this U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea passed. Most people
don't realize that it's already about 20 years old, because it was
drafted in the early 1970s.
I personally believe that it needs to be reviewed, and yet there
are no articles that cover a regular review. Certainly, there are
many changes and advances that hadn't even been considered when
these articles were being drafted under the Law of the Sea, and
the enrichment of the sea is one of them. No articles cover ocean
fertilization, exactly, but UNCLOS is the authority on which most
of intergovernmental legal ocean agreements are based, and it does
state that the international area of the ocean and its resources
are the common heritage of mankind.