2.2 Environmental and ecological

Has the project effectively considered the potential environmental and ecological impacts of planned activities, and been designed to proactively mitigate risks?

Our principles

  • Environmental risk is mitigated wherever possible through the design of the system deployed (i.e., “mitigation through system design”).

  • Proactive environmental risk assessments must be conducted prior to planned deployments. Processes must be implemented for ongoing monitoring, assessment, and data collection of potential risks identified.

  • Monitoring plans must be shared and reviewed by an independent Scientific Advisory Board or similar impartial expert body prior to planned deployments.

  • Methods for the accurate assessment of ecological impacts are informed by ongoing research and continuously refined based on best available science.

How we demonstrate these principles

  • Potential negative environmental impacts are proactively mitigated or avoided in advance of research deployments through both system design and environmental risk assessments and screening. The system must have no more than “a minor or transitory effect on the marine environment” when evaluated against the baseline of declining ocean health, in line with the environmental assessment guidance from the recently adopted High Seas Treaty.

    • Running Tide’s current research deployments have been designed to mitigate and avoid environmental risks, particularly in relation to material distribution and density, as materials deployed passively float for days to weeks, dispersing over many miles, before eventually sinking. Additional information on this risk mitigation can be found in the “System Design” section of our Framework Protocol.

    • Our comprehensive environmental screening process for materials used in research projects includes elemental analysis, testing for contamination, heavy metal, and toxicity, and material reactivity testing. Results from these screenings are compared against acceptable concentration guidelines allowed by law to ensure that concentrations do not pose an environmental hazard. Any materials that exceed these thresholds are disqualified from potential use. This material evaluation and screening process is laid out in detail in our Responsible Sourcing Strategy, which provides guidelines for how the materials we use are sourced in environmentally responsible ways and mitigate and avoid potential environmental risks.

  • Running Tide has also released a review of the environmental assessment related to our Iceland work – i.e., a comprehensive risk assessment of potential ecological impacts – which has been independently reviewed by Deloitte and our Scientific Advisory Board, and benefitted from comments made by several members of the Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative (DOSI) Climate Change working group.

  • Running Tide regularly consults and collaborates with external environmental subject matter experts. For example, Running Tide has multiple active benthic research projects ongoing in partnership with leading scientific and oceanographic organizations, including Ocean Networks Canada and the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, designed to answer key questions about our material interactions and potential future ecological risks in the benthos.

  • As planned for during the experimental design phase of our current and forthcoming research projects, Running Tide has a range of ongoing monitoring processes in place:

    • To evaluate potential impacts in the pelagic environment, baseline water samples are collected during research deployments to gather information about open ocean water conditions, including pH and nutrient levels.

    • Verification hardware sensors are also deployed to monitor physical oceanographic parameters (wave height, currents, and more), chlorophyll levels, and collect in-situ imagery to evaluate float time and performance of distinct carbon buoy compositions in varied weather and wave conditions, and enable comparison against models.

    • Ongoing benthic surveys are in place to evaluate biodiversity impacts over time, expected carbon durability and remineralization rates, and additional factors.

As our work progresses, we will layer on additional monitoring capabilities designed to enable in-situ monitoring over longer periods of time and allow for more intensive sampling. This will include the utilization of ocean autonomous and remotely operated vehicles (AUVs and ROVs), hardware sensor development and dematerialization, and additional open ocean nutrient sampling.

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