Marine Pollution

The protection of the marine environment and the management of its natural resources constitute one of the major issues for the Pacific Island Countries. There are two international juridical systems that regulate the rights of use and the obligations to protect of the Countries on the marine areas:

                                      UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA  


                                                         IMO CONVENTIONS IN THE PACIFIC


United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982 

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
 lays down a comprehensive regime of law and order in the world's oceans and seas establishing rules governing all uses of the oceans and their resources. It enshrines the notion that all problems of ocean space are closely interrelated and need to be addressed as a whole. The Convention entered into force on the 16 November 1994.
The UNCLOS governs all aspects of ocean space, such as delimitation, environmental control, marine scientific research, economic and commercial activities, transfer of technology and the settlement of disputes relating to ocean matters.

The major provisions related with to Pacific Environment which define the extent of the PICs marine area of soverignty, and the rights and duties on it, are: 

Part V: Exclusive Economic Zone 
One of the major issues regulated by the Convention is the extension of States sovereignty on the sea. 
The agreement set the limit of various areas, measured from a carefully defined baseline (internal waters, territorial waters, contigous zone, EEZ, continental shelf, international waters) . 
The EEZ is defined as an area which extends 200 miles beyond the territorial sea. On this area States have:  
"sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources, whether living or non-living, of the waters superjacent to the seabed and of the seabed and its subsoil".
This disposition is crucial for the PICs because recognizes their sovreignity on a big portion of the Pacific Ocean (please note that 98% of the area on which PICs have soveregnty is sea) and on the resources and ecosystems of more than 27449 milion square km. 
Part XI of the Convention: Seabed beyond national jurisdiction
This section regulates the regime of exploration and minerals on the seabed outside any state's territorial waters or EEZ. This section recognizes that resources on the seabed beyond the States continental shelf are common heritage from humankind. In order to garantee the management of these resources in the interest of all humankind the convention has established a autonoumus international organization: the International Seabed Autority.  
Part XII of the Convention: protection and preservation of the marine environment
The Convention dedicates also a spefic section to the protection and preservation of the marine environment. The parties to the Convention agree that:
"States have the obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment" and "States have the sovereign right to exploit their natural resources pursuant to their environmental policies and in accordance with their duty to protect and preserve the marine environment".
In order to meet these obligations States need to take specific measures which are outlines at art.194.  
More info about the Convention:here. 

International Maritime Organisation Conventions 

The International Maritime Organization (a UN specialized agency) has developed a number of global legal frameworks related to shipping safety and marine environment in order to accomplish with its mandate of improving the safety and security of international shipping and preventing marine pollution from ships.

IMO was established by the countries to adopt legislation, it doesn’t implement it. Governments are responsible for implementing it. When a Government accepts an IMO Convention it agrees to make it part of its own national law and to enforce it.

The Conventions
During its period of activity IMO has adopted about fifty instruments (between Conventions, Protocols and amendments). The marine environment related instruments can be classed considering the object of their regulation:  
1. Pollution Prevention:
  • Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from ships 1978 (MARPOL CONVENTION) Annexes I, II, III, IV, V, VI
     Protocol to the Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from ships (MARPOL PROTOCOL);
  • Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and other Matter1972 (LONDON) Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and other matter 1996  

2. Pollution Response

  • Convention on oil pollution preparedness, response, and Co-operation, 1990 (OPRC Convention)
  • Convention on Preparadness, response and cooperation to pollution incidents by Hazardous and Noxious Substances, (OPRC-HNS) 2000
  • Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (CLC Convention) 69 & CLC Protocol 76/92
  • Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for oil pollution damage (Fund Convention) 1971 & Fund Protocol 1976/92/03,
  • Intervention Convention 69 & Intervention Protocol 73,
  • Convention on civil liability for Bunker Oil Polluttion Damage, 2001,
  •  Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in connection with the Carriage of hazardous and       Noxoius Substances by Sea, (HNS Convention) 1996 & HNS Protocol 2010

3. Ballast Water Management and Control Convention 2004
4. Anti-Fouling Systems Convention 2001;
5. Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships,Honk Kong Convention 2009
6. Wreck Removal Nairobi Convention 2007.

Click here for information on the IMO Marine Environment Protection Conventions

Click here for a list of all the IMO Conventions

IMO was established by the countries to adopt legislation, it doesn’t implement it. Governments are responsible for incorporate it. When a Government accepts an IMO Convention it agrees to make it part of its own national law and to enforce it.
The countries meet their obligation with the Convention by ensuring that their own domestic law and practice are consistent with what is required by the treaty.In order terms the Parties to the Convention need to incorporate the agreements by passing domestic legislation that gives effect to the treaty in the national legal system.In order to facilitate the implementation of the agreements by elaborating strategies/plans/laws, often IMO offers technical and financial support to the parties. 

The IMO Conventions in the Pacific 
Among the PICs only FSM, Nauru and Niue are not members to the IMO. As regards the Conventions, for each of them and their related Protocols, the number of PICs that are party differs. In behalf of the Pacific Region the countries are working at different levels in order to protect their marine environment by the pollution originated by shipping activities, and in order to comply with their international maritime committments established through IMO:

Regional Level

Multilateral environmental agreements
Noumea Convention Protocols: two protocols have been adopted in behalf of the Noumea Convention in order to reflect at a regional level the committments that the States have took on at the international level.
  • Protocol for the Prevention of Pollution of the South Pacific Region by Dumping which is the mirror instrument of the IMO London Convention and Protocol. 
  • Protocol Concerning Co-operation in Combating Pollution Emergencies in the South Pacific Region which reflects the OPRC Convention

For info about the Protocols, the Noumea Convention and their implementation: here

> Waigani Convention: the Waigani Convention is the Convention to Ban the Importation into Forum Island Countries of Hazardous and Radioactive Wastes and to Control the Transboundary Movement and Management of Hazardous Wastes within the South Pacific Region.
Even if this Convention represents mainly the mirror instrument of the Basel Convention, some of its provisions overlap with the dispositions of the IMO conventions. More info: here.  

Plans and strategies
Different Plans and Strategies have been adopted and carried out by the PICs, with the support of SPREP and other agencies, in order to meet their IMO obligations.

> PACPOL, Pacific Ocean Pollution Prevention Programme, 2010-2014:    Pacpol strategy - Brochure 

> PACPLAN: Pacific Island Reginal Marine Spill Contingency Plan:  Plan

WWII Wreck Strategy, a regional strategy to address marine pollution from World War II wrecks: Strategy

SRIMP-Pac, a regional strategy for Shipping related introduced marine pests in the Pacific Islands:   Draft 

National level
With the support of SPREP the countries have adopted strategies and contingency plans (look here), in addition to laws (here). In order to facilitate the development of a legislation reflecting the IMO Conventions, legislation models have been created for the PICs by SPREP : 
- Marine Polluttion Prevention Bill
- Ballast water management regulation
- Ports Reception Facilities Regulation
- Pollution Levy Regulation 

These model laws are intended to be a guide for the countries for meeting the international committments, they need to be adjusted to the particularities of national legal systems and administrative culturesures. 

Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA), 1995

The GPA “aims at preventing the degradation of the marine environment from land-based activities by facilitating the realization of the duty of States to preserve and protect the marine environment”. It is unique in that it is the only global initiative directly addressing the connectivity between terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems.

The GPA targets major threats to the health, productivity and biodiversity of the marine and coastal environment resulting from human activities on land and proposes an integrated, multisectoral approach based on commitment to action at local, national, regional and global levels.nt

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