A village on the island of Haida Gwaii off the West Coast of Canada secretly dumped over 100 tons of iron into the ocean to stimulate a massive plankton bloom. Dubbed geoengineering there was a storm of international media coverage.

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.

Here is the text of the statements made by the Village of Old Massett Chief Ken Rea, followed by the President of the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation, John Disney.

Ken Rea:

Thank you for attending our press conference at the Vancouver aquarium. I am the elected Chief Councilor for the Village of Old Massett. I am the lead spokesperson for our community. And I am the principal for this initiative. [The Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation]

It has been quite an experience this week. It is clear that this has generated a great deal of attention both locally, nationally, and everywhere.

I want to tell you a story in my own words. I am a leader, a businessman, a fisherman, and a father, and a steward of our oceans. And I take these roles very seriously.

We live in Old Massett and live on the ocean for generations. We are stewards of the land, and always taken a strong leadership position, when it's coming to resource management and sustainable development. This is nothing new, and we have been here for generations and we want to ensure a healthy ocean for future generations.

In recent years something has changed in our oceans. The salmon are gone and this has created many problems and has affected my people's and the village's future. Unemployment in our village is over 70% and economic opportunities are limited.

The Village Council, it was clear that we needed to take action to bring back the salmon which are so critically important to our people. Our oceans and the salmon that it produced in the past has employed many in the fishery. That is no longer the case.

This has led to create the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation. This is owned by our village. (1) This is a Haida company that was tasked with helping examine our oceans and restore salmon to be used by our people for food, ceremonial, and commercial purposes.

The creation of this company and this project was consulted widely and discussed by many people in the community. It was not a decision taken lightly. We have an obligation to steward our scarce financial resources.

We undertook the step of restoring the salmon in the ocean. We developed the company and the team to undertake this work. You'll hear much more from John Disney about the actual work that summer that utilized the research vessel the Ocean Perl (2) and a variety of the latest technology.

We did our due diligence. We looked at the science, the legalities, the practicalities. We consulted and then we implemented.

Iron in the ocean is a natural thing. It is not pollution as some of the recent press has indicated. We went into the high seas to do this project because that's where the fish are. We are at international waters where the Law of the Sea Convention governed. We undertook our work, in the open ocean, and collecting baseline data, more marine life was observed.

We .. As we collected data we took steps, restoration. It wasn't long before we saw the results of the seabirds, whales, and fish. We collected all the data. When the Ocean Pearl returned to the dock, there is much work to be done. We need to analyze this data, and we continue to do that in accordance with normal scientific practice.

Under the Law of the Sea Convention we have an obligation to undertake scientific research (3) as a village, and as well, share the data.

We want to protect the ocean. We want to create a sustainable economy. We want to provide answers and we want to help provide solutions. It may be the ocean carbon credits may be the way to do that. Only the data would tell. (4) The success of our project will be measured when the salmon return to our waters. (5) We believe in this project. We want to share this project and our finding with the broader community.

It is our hope that our investment is the right one for this community. On a changing planet we need to take bold steps.

The people of the Village of Old Massett believe that we have taken the right step. Time will tell.

How... for honoring our invitation. And thank you for listening.


Joe Spears: (6) I'd like to call on Mr. John Disney, the President of the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation.

John Disney:

Thank you for all coming out to this conference here this morning. Our project has generated a great deal of media attention both locally, nationally, and internationally. (7)

I want to tell you about the project - what we did, and how we did it. This project was not entered into lightly. And we have complied with all the necessary aspects of ocean governance before undertaking the work.

What I want to make very clear is that we do not consider micronutrient replenishment of a naturally occurring substance to be pollution. (8) We are using this for restoration purposes to restore the salmon back to their rightful place in the Old Massett economy.

We have created a great team, working to develop the knowledge that will allow us to have a sustainable future, and that is a guiding principle of the company.

As President, I am very cognizant of all the requirements of the scientific and legal nature that applies to this project. (9)

I'd like to say at this time, that the international media and national media seems to have focus on Russ George who we brought in as our Chief Scientist. (10) I want to make this emphatically clear: Russ George did not, I say did not, come to us to dupe us, or sell us a bill of goods. We approached him, and we based that on ten years of work with him in other fields. (11) I've known Russ for over ten years and I'll tell you something that is very rare. I've never.. he's never once lied to me. He's only told me the truth. He has a great integrity, (12) and he's never let us down.

And every time he's told me something that I thought was unbelievable, (13) I've checked it out and he's always been right. (14) And I challenge anyone else in the corporate world to come up with that about a person. Russ has one aim in life: he wants to try and make the planet a better place. That's it. I don't care what else you read. (15)

The full highlights of the process are set out in the backgrounder to the Haida Salmon Restoration Project (16). But I want to take you to a couple of ... points. We sought the best scientific method to ensure that our efforts and investment of more than two million dollars would pay dividends in the future. (17) We sought to use the very latest cutting edge of marine technology to make this a reality. (18)

We used local people wherever possible. (19) We consulted widely to a global scale and we undertook all our due diligence. (20) The Salmon Enhancement Pilot Research Project, also known as the Ocean Restoration, or Ocean Micronutrient Replenishment, was for study conditions of the ocean offshore west of Haida Gwaii, which we understood and believe (21) act as a pasture for juvenile salmon.

We wanted to examine this with a particular emphasis on the collapse of plankton biomass (22) that traditionally provides nutrients to salmon and other marine life.

The goal of our project was to restore the growth of phytoplankton, therefore sustaining and enhancing marine life. What is well documented in literature is the amount of iron dust entering the oceans has decreased over time. (23) We thought there was a link between a recent volcanic eruption and an increase in returning salmon that was in... It was caused by an introduction of iron dust into the marine ecosystem of the Gulf of Alaska.

One of our goals was to see if we could make that connection. In 2010 instead of the less than 1 million salmon returning to the Fraser River (24) there were 40 million.

We had planned to release the information from our research after the Cohen Report that was set up by the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans to examine the collapse of salmon stock. However, the recent article in the British Guardian [newspaper] and the resulting flurry of media attention put the spotlight on this project. And so we thought it best if we put some of the factual story, an amazing story (25) out to you so you could learn firsthand at what we found.

The important thing to remember is that this story is ongoing. Pictures tell a thousand words and we have many many pictures, and thousands of words to tell.

And what we found was that when we added iron into the ocean there was an almost immediate observable impact on marine life, such as whales and other sea mammals, sea birds, pelagic fish. And this could all be observed immediately from the research vessel. This is encouraging. But until we analyze the data we will not know the full results of our efforts. (26)

In you media package we have both photos and information of our data collection techniques. We sought to use the latest in technology, using a solid approved methodology (27) for collecting both the baseline data (28) and to measure the potential increase in marine phytoplankton production.

We have collected an amazing amount of data (29) , in an area where there has been very little oceanographic research. The gyre where this work was undertaken appears to be very stable.

Our next steps are the ongoing work to analyze the data. (30) The ultimate proof will be in the return of sockeye salmon to our watersheds in two thousand and fourteen and subsequent years. (31)

As our background[er] indicates we are going to release some of this data for independent third party analysis. (32) We also want to create a dialog around this issue. (33)

I also want to make it clear that the work was performed in international waters, is lawful, and we sought legal advice from experienced maritime counsel, who worked in this area, for many years before acting.

We have every intention of cooperating with Canadian government officials (34) and it has always been our position to comply with Canadian law even when operating in international waters. In fact, up to seven Federal Ministries know about, or have been involved to some extent in this project. (35)

Our company is very hopeful that the salmon will return and we may be able to measure carbon credits, may be able to fund future restoration work. (36) It might be hard for some of you to comprehend that a small First Nations community consisting of a few hundred people could undertake such a project. But I'll tell you that this isn't a single stand-alone project.

Old Massett has been observing the environment around them and been concerned about what they see and taken several steps in recent years. We have a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant, so our sewage is non-threatening to the surrounding environment. We've addressed the issue of throwing offal from our processing plants, and now it is sold to local farmers who compost it, grow chickens and cows, from which we then buy that meat.

We're embarking on an alternative energy plan to get off diesel generation. In fact we're about to respond to our B.C. Hydro request for interest in proposals that's coming out next month.

And we've set up one of the only radiation monitoring systems on a twenty four hour basis in the Northwest corner of B.C.

So this isn't a new area that we've entered. We are familiar with the routines and the rigor around doing scientific work. (37)

Thank you for coming here today.


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.