This transcript is one of a series made by Alex Smith of Radio Ecoshock, made October 19th, 2012 at the press conference organized by the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation at the Vancouver Aquarium.

You can also download these audio recordings: (1) statement by Chief Ken Rea and HSRC President John Disney (2)statement by James L. Straith, lawyer for the Corporation on the legalities of this experiment, and (3) the question and answer period with the press - as separate files from my October 23rd show blog at Some transcripts are also available there, plus my one hour Radio Ecoshock feature on geoengineering the ocean.

There was no microphone for the press questions, only one mic for the presenters, controlled by Vancouver lawyer Joe Spears. In most cases the questions were repeated by Mr. Spears.


[1st question is from CBC Radio for John Disney]
... you've said you hoped to recoup some of the two million dollars by selling carbon credits. I talked to people who buy and sell and trade carbon credits and they say there is no chance that what you've done this year would give you any money...

John Disney: Yeah, that's a possible option. Um, I guess we're talking to different people. At the.. at the end of the day, if, if you sequester one ton of carbon out of the atmosphere and your methodology is sound, and you get that certified and documented, the you have a salable product. I mean it's that simple. So we're going through the various steps.

That isn't the only driver here. We said that is an option we're perusing because we have knowledge and experience working with carbon credits on land-based projects.

[Joe Spears asks for a question from the back, and promises to repeat the question, since there are no microphones for the press.]

James Keller with Canadian Press.
I'm wondering who you consulted? Environment Canada said they weren't informed. NOAA said they knew something was happening but they were misled. The National Research Council said they didn't know what you were doing. So some...

Joe Spear: I think that's probably for Mr. Disney.

James Keller, Canadian Press: Who did you actually consult?

John Disney: Well, you know I can't comment on the flow of information between the top and bottom of a Ministry, but I'll tell you that we've had seven Federal Ministries involved, either significantly or in a peripheral manner, with this project. The National Research Council.. for their part, we went to them because they have programs whereby they'll help you offset costs with scientific work in the form of can recoup some of the wages of some or our scientists, and we have a program going with them, and that's been ongoing for months.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans has been involved in a couple of incidents.. instances, shouldn't say that word... We went to a conference hosted by them and the Canadian Space Agency in February. Where we took, our scientists took their laptops to this agency to get them to load in the software so we could track this project via satellite.

And we've had technical help from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, so I mean they know about this project.

[James Keller, Canadian Press] Does anyone know what you were doing, because everyone who says they knew about...

John Disney: I'm telling you they know the project. They know exactly what we're doing.

[James Keller interrupts, host Spear speaks, some confusion, Spears restates his rule just one question per media rep, is this a follow on question, etc. ]

[James Keller] I just want to be very clear. When you say people know, did they know you were doing ocean fertilization? Because anyone who claimed to have known you were doing something say...

John Disney: Well, we move on to things like the Canadian Revenue Agency. They not only seen the project. They seen the whole business plan and everything because they got all our spreadsheets. They had complete access to the entire project.

Indian Northern Affairs Canada... I work for a Band. I have to file two reports a year. That's been on their radar for several years. There's all these agencies that know about this project. I just don't know how the flow of information within the agencies goes, and that's not really my concern. It didn't even occur to me that the top doesn't know what's happening down below.

[Next Question] My name is Margaret Munro I work with Post Media.

Joe Spears: "Margaret Munro, Post Media News"

[difficult to hear, may not be verbatim ] ... the Haida Nation seems to be dissociating ... unintelligible

Joe Spears: Your question is there's a press release from the Haida Nation and that's for Chief Rea.

Ken Rea: Sorry, can you repeat the question?

Margaret Munro: (may not be verbatim) ... the team here says that the Haida are in no way, that the Haida Nation is in no way supporting this project, so I just wondered what you say...

Ken Rea: Thank you for the question. The Haida Nation and the Old Massett Village Council are two distinct governments with two distinct ... responsibilities... to our... and it's the same ... to our communities.

And I've seen the Press Conference and I've talked to many members of the Haida Nation and we have a good dialog. So... I ... thank you. I don't know if that answers any questions I...

Margaret Munro: (may not be verbatim) You seem the champions of ocean fertilization ... [unintelligible]

Ken Rea: Well we haven't released the information to set the record. And this is coming to them now as well. For a number of reasons.

[Next question] (unintelligible)

Joe Spears: This is a person from UBC Faculty of Earth and Ocean Sciences. Your question?

[Maite Maldonado, Associate Professor in earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences at the University of British Columbia.]

I would like to know..... the salmon would collapse...

Joe Spears: The question is what information, and I may paraphrase, what information do you have that salmon stocks have collapsed and the phytoplankton also collapsing. What information do you have? So I'm going to turn that over to John.

[Maite Maldonado, UBC] ... that the salmon have declined due to a decline of [ocean biomass??]

Joe Spears: Basically what you are asking: Is there a link between phytoplankton decrease and Sockeye or the other four species of salmon on the coast? Is that fair?

[Maite Maldonado, UBC] Yes.

John Disney: Old Massett has a contract with the Federal Government to run a salmon hatchery on Haida Gwaii and it's considered to be one of the best run hatcheries on the West Coast. And we've done that since the early 70's. We have a fantastic team and we've never missed a production target.

And what we've found was that no matter how many salmon, small salmon, we sent out to sea, we could not stop the returning stock from dwindling. And so several years ago we started down the path of trying to figure out what that was about. The river seemed fine, the watershed seemed fine, the water seemed fine. And so we started moving out and that's when started doing our research.

And as soon as you start doing research you suddenly realize there's a problem offshore. And it doesn't take you long if you do your research to find the problem is the plankton are dying. And it doesn't take much more research before you find out why. And so you start to make the link between nutrients missing in the plankton's diet that's making them decline, which they have for about 50 years, about 1 percent a year, so we've lost half our biomass out there, very rough.

And then, so then we looked around to see what Nature does. And the big event that hit us between the eyes was the Kasatochi Volcano eruption in 2008. And everything was timed right, and the whole... the wind and everything blanketed the whole Gulf of Alaska with dust which contains the iron nutrients. And a very - almost the worst run ever predicted for the Fraser River turned into the biggest run almost in history in 2010. And there is a direct link between those two and there's been scientific papers written about it by some of Canada's top oceanographers.

And that was sort of like the icing on the cake. We thought we have to take this a step further.

There's other dust events in the world off Eastern Australia did the same thing, caused big plankton blooms. The evidence seemed to be obvious. So then we put together the Corporation, the project, and we have a link and we have a serious case here.

So that's when we went down and asked Russ George, people like that to come and help us, 'cause of his expertise, and here we are.

[Maite Maldonado, UBC] Can I comment?

Joe Spears: Well this is not an academic discussion. There's a number of questions. You are welcome to come back and I'd also like to have the Chief speak, because he is ... he's fished for 18 years, and I'd like to have, I think to look at this is the traditional ecological knowledge.

Ken Rea: I'm going to speak to the link to the volcano, to our Village Council, to our community. And the stark contrast from the bloom that we created and to the bloom that was created by the volcano. It's... the scale was incredibly... under the volcano ... and so our approach at the scale that we set out, targeting a specific eddy, in an area where we know the fish are feeding. We all knew the salmon went out to run their life cycle, and what was going on? Why weren't they returning?

In our mind, it was the links were made, and a position was taken to do something about it. Thank you.

[Next question]

Eduardo Sousa: My name is Eduardo Sousa with Greenpeace.

The question is what adverse effects and whether those have been taken into consideration given the large scale aspects of the project. You admit it's an uncontrolled environment. What considerations did you in respect to adverse effects?

Joe Spears: Your question is: What consideration was given to adverse effects, and you used the term "large scale" - are you using that term in the sense that it's used in the London Dumping Convention, or just in the common term?

Sousa: Common term.

Joe Spears: Common term. John?

John Disney: Yeah this is all about measurement and really the very small scale of the project if you compare this to the volcano one which we kept coming back to. That's many tens of thousands of tons of natural dust was spread on the ocean by a natural process. And not one negative side effect happened out of that. That was an absolute proof.

So when we went out there, we took the absolute definition of the precautionary approach. And we didn't just monitor this, we monitored this time and time and time again with different instrumentation and different methods from every conceivable angle to ensure that we didn't step one step in the wrong direction.

And we... your concerns were our concerns. And as we were the ones doing it, I assure you they were concerns through the roof. And at the end of the day, I've asked everyone that went and did the experiment and the data they have to date: 'did you see one negative side effect and no.. everybody said its 100% positive.

Joe Spears: Just so you know, on the data stick there are the photos, and also on there is the analysis and the types of oceanographic technology that was used to collect the data, and you'll see there was lots of it.

There's a question over here, but I'll let the CBC [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation] have it. Love your show by the way.

CBC reporter: I have a question for you. And it's really about this is coming from a village of what 700 people. How big of an impact is two million dollars on the Old village of Massett in terms of your budget?

Joe Spears: The question is how big of an impact, or what percentage of two million dollars you're putting into this project has on a village of 700. Is that fair?


Ken Rea: It's a considerable investment. Budget-wise I couldn't get straight to the right numbers, the exact number. This is one of six initiatives we're pushing forward on that required, you know, a great deal of management.

We are taking this initiative very seriously and applying all the rigor that I can personally do. More so than any other initiative that we've launched. The impact is substantial. We have other initiatives moving forward to see us over the period. And, as said, the jury is out.

CBC: Whose money is it?

Ken Rea: It's the community's money.

CBC: ??? from the taxes, from the government, or transfers? What's the biggest source of money?

Ken Rea: We've had monies available from other funding sources that belong to the community. We've had money from proper management and shared revenue sources from various resources. And we've, over careful management over many years we've built up a reserve.

CBC: You don't have a ball park on what it costs in running the Village for a year?

Ken Rea: I receive ...I believe it's 8 point... 11.8 million dollars for a community of 2800 and that covers all costs. We probably leverage 2 to 3 million a year through various projects and initiatives and granting agencies out there, you know, from doing work projects to doing training initiatives to creating the... investing in the Village.

Joe Spears: I think the answer you are saying is two million dollars. Just so you know, this glider that's sitting behind us here is deployed from the vessel and you'll see video on here - that's worth a quarter of a million dollars and just so you know, that's been loaned to the project. They didn't have to buy the two of those, which would have been five hundred thousand dollars.

There's a question, there's a whole cluster here. We're going to get you right behind.

[Identifies herself] Nicole Mordant from Reuters.

Nicole Mordant: Who exactly is behind this project? The Haida Nation is not included. Is the Village of Old Massett (unintelligible).

Joe Spears: The question from Reuters is who is behind the project and I'm going to hand that to the Chief.

Ken Rea: The Old Massett Village Council is behind this project.

Before we could launch this project, we had to consult with our community. And we did that through a series of meetings. We did it through what...which came to a vote. I'm responsible to the people of Old Massett. We have a relationship with the Haida Nation and they have their roles and responsibilities. I have my roles and responsibilities.

We both have our own initiatives, and this is Old Massett's. No one else's.

Joe Spear: In the backgrounder that's actually set out. There's question down here.

Joe Spears: Alex Smith from CFRO Radio.

Alex Smith: Please name the scientists that were on board the Ocean Perl for this project. You mentioned science.

Joe Spears: The question is: name the scientists on board the fishing vessel Ocean Perl. John? Jason?

Jason [McNamee] is the Operations Officer and I know he spent many weeks at sea and it was really sunny once in the four weeks I think, and there was only a thirty foot groundswell happening. So Jason?

(talk among organizers, including Disney and Spears): "Russ for sure."

Jason McNamee: Hi. Yeah we had a number of scientists. We had a number of scientists on board. Uh, obviously Russ George was one or our scient... key scientists.

Other journalist: Could you also possibly include their training? What their scientific background is?

Jason McNamee: I don't have their CV's with me.

Joe Spears: I think there's a question of privacy of individuals. We'll get you that information and on the video that's on here, you'll see the deck hands and the technicians that are walking around trying to deploy equipment at sea. So there was lots of people. I think we can, we'll get that information. It's not a guess, we don't want to guess here.

[Jason starts to leave the microphone]

Alex Smith: So you are not answering the question?

Jason McNamee: Russ George was our Chief Scientist. Right. We've got Peter Gross who is our Senior Oceanographic Engineer. He also doubles as our Sonar expert.

We had a plankton biologist on board named Tegan Sime. The chemist on board... I did some of the chemistry work, and we had a number of technicians. A lot of our work was collaborative, and so a lot of the technical work was done on the ship.

Joe Spears [pointing to next question]

Margaret Munro [Post Media]: I'm curious why Russ George isn't here. Can you tell us why?

Joe Spears: I think it's quite clear. He's analyzing the data. Next question? Right here.

Nelson Skalbania: This is Nelson Skalbania and I used to be Chairman of a company called Planktos.

Joe Spears: The chairman of Plank - formerly of Plank of... Corporation is here.

Nelson Skalbania: I spent four years and a few million dollars with Russ George. So I'm here because, after a lot of experience, I'm in full endorsement of the plan. And I wish to Hell we had something like Massett, doing that program when we were doing it. But I endorse everything they were doing. After four years and four million dollars.

Joe Spears: Mr. Skalbania endorses the project and ... next question?

[Questioner] My name is Evgeny Pakhomov from Earth and Ocean Sciences...

Joe Spears: We've got a zooplankton ecologist from the University of British Columbia.

Evgeny Pakhomov: My question is that there is a genuine concern about long-term effects on the ocean, the well-being of the ocean. Have you considered what the long-term of the oceans, especially the deep oceans, will have ???

Joe Spears: The question is: what affect will fertilization on the deep ocean?

Evgeny Pakhomov: The long-term effect.

Joe Spears: The long-term effect. John?

Evgeny Pakhomov: I mean have you measured the xxxxx ? (not intelligible) as well?

John Disney: We began measurements before we did the project. We did measurements during the project and we're still continuing doing measurements now. We have a few more glider missions to go, we have Argus buoys out there now sending us back data. This isn't over.

How deep? Those gliders will go as deep as we ask them to go. So we can program that in, and they report back to us about 6 times a day. And we understand there's a before, during and after process here. And, it would have been nice to have this event in about six months from now or a year. But unfortunately because of the way this broke we had to come and address you, to tell you what we were doing.

But as I said in my talk, this is ongoing. This isn't complete and we're very aware of the possible side effects, 'cause many people in the world talked to us about it.

But we're also watching what happened after the huge event in 2008 [volcano] and so far we haven't detected in our research any side effects to that down to the deep too so far we've ... our data has come up, has proved several theories, the one about oxygen and the carbon cycle sequestration - those ones have already been backed up by our data but also have been published in the last six months by various people around the world. And we're in collaboration with global marine scientists.

So yes we're ... I understand your concern, and we're very concerned about it too, and we are continuing to monitor.

Joe Spear: Thank you. We've got... what we have.. Dr. Nightengale [Aquarium representative]... we can hear children in the background. The Aquarium is sort of being opened for business and this really is what this project is all about - future generations. I've got time for one more question from someone that hasn't asked a question.

Global BC News?

[question is unintelligible]

Joe Spears: The question is: this, I assume you are talking about iron fertilization been done in other oceans around the world. John?

John Disney: Yes, this was an idea that sprang up in about 1989. And since then, this might have been the ... it's either the 13th or the 14th experiment since that time to now. There's been... but the only difference between ours and the others is that the largest to date was about ten tons, and we put in ten times that.

So all we did is we took it up a notch, although it's still very small. And the key ones in the last sort of decade or more is the two out of the Alfred Wegener Institute, the high effects and low effects project, The former has just been peer reviewed. The documentation just came out. In fact while we were offshore.

And so far from our study of the research they've found none of the negative side effects that people are worried about, like making dead zones, eating up the oxygen. And our data to date shows exactly the same thing. It doesn't do that.

So that's about the history of it. It's .. if you dig into it, it doesn't take long before you'll find the whole thing. Even Googling you'll find this stuff.

End of Transcript by Alex Smith of Radio Ecoshock.

John Disney then explains the Glider technology, and they wrap up with no more questions. He also explains a satellite shot showing the big bloom they created.


This transcript is provided by Alex Smith of Radio Ecoshock (

This transcript is one of a series made by Alex Smith of Radio Ecoshock, made October 19th, 2012 at the press conference organized by the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation at the Vancouver Aquarium.

You can also download these audio recordings: (1) statement by Chief Ken Rea and HSRC President John Disney (2)statement by James L. Straith, lawyer for the Corporation on the legalities of this experiment, and (3) the question and answer period with the press - as separate files from my October 23rd show blog at Some transcripts are also available there, plus my one hour Radio Ecoshock feature on geoengineering the ocean.