Dumping Of Waste At Sea

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On 05th April 2006, the owner and the master of a Bahamas registered container ship were found guilty of polluting French waters in 2005 and a French court slapped a fine of $ 980,000 (Appx 800,000 Euro) by a French Court. This is said to be a record fine. On the same day, the Chief Engineer of a Panamanian registered container ship was fined $ 3,500/- , sentenced to two months imprisonment and the owner of the ship was fined $ 10.5 million by a US District Court for being guilty of illegal dumping of oily sludge into the ocean. This is said to be the largest criminal fine paid by a defendant in an environmental case.

Whoever violates the MARPOL and other international legislation on environmental pollution deserves to be punished as per law. The seafaring community is more concerned about environmental pollution. They breathe the air of this planet and they are more worried about atmospheric pollution. They are law abiding global citizens. The millions of vehicles plying on land pollute the air each moment and every day. No one attempts to blow the whistle at it. But when something goes wrong at sea, the entire world stands up pointing a finger at seafarers, forgetting the fact that without shipping industry half of the population will starve and the rest will die. When an accident or a mishap occurs at sea the seafarers braves their lives to avert pollution.

Unfortunately, the global population is being carried away by the one sided campaign of the environmental activists. By a mere guess, if the balance between the vastness of the ocean, number of ships, size of cargo, importance of shipping and the whole polluting activities ashore is taken, it could be clearly seen that there is a heavy shift towards the shore. But there is no political will to guard the shipping side and the sword always hangs on the seafarer.

It is in this context that the seafaring community should get enlightened on the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter. The 1996 IMO protocol on the subject came into force on 24 March 2006. The 1996 Protocol represents a major change of approach to the question of how to regulate the use of the sea as a depository for waste materials in that, in essence, dumping is prohibited, except for materials on an approved list. This supersedes the 1972 Convention which permitted dumping of wastes at sea, except for those materials on a banned list.

The salient features and advantages of the 1996 Protocol are listed below:-

The Protocol reflects a more modern and comprehensive agreement on protecting the marine environment from dumping activities than the original 1972 Convention and reflects the broader aims to protect the environment in general.
The Protocol introduces a “precautionary approach” as a general obligation. This requires that “appropriate preventative measures are to be taken when there is reason to believe that wastes or other matter introduced into the marine environment are likely to cause harm even when there is no conclusive evidence to prove a causal relation between inputs and their effects.” The article also states that “the polluter should, in principle, bear the cost of pollution” and it emphasizes that Contracting Parties should ensure that the Protocol should not simply result in pollution being transferred from one part of the environment to another.
The Protocol is more restrictive. It states that Contracting Parties “shall prohibit the dumping of any wastes or other matter with the exception of those listed in annexure 1”. These materials include: –

Dredged material.
Sewage sludge.
Fish waste, or material resulting from industrial fish processing operations.
Vessels and platforms or other man-made structures at sea.
Inert, inorganic geological material.
Organic material of natural origin.
Bulky items primarily comprising iron, steel, concrete and similar harmless materials, for which the concern is physical impact, and limited to those circumstances where such wastes are generated at locations, such as small islands with isolated communities, having no practicable access to disposal options other than dumping.
The geographical coverage of the protocol is wider, as it also governs storage of wastes in the seabed, as well as the abandonment, or toppling, of offshore installations.
The Seafaring community is advised to study the detailed brief on the 1996 protocol published by the IMO in their professional interest.
– By Jobships.com
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