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Suggested Citation:"ISSUES RELATED TO SPECIAL AREAS." National Research Council. 1995. Clean Ships, Clean Ports, Clean Oceans: Controlling Garbage and Plastic Wastes at Sea. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4769.
Page 203
Suggested Citation:"ISSUES RELATED TO SPECIAL AREAS." National Research Council. 1995. Clean Ships, Clean Ports, Clean Oceans: Controlling Garbage and Plastic Wastes at Sea. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4769.
Page 204
Suggested Citation:"ISSUES RELATED TO SPECIAL AREAS." National Research Council. 1995. Clean Ships, Clean Ports, Clean Oceans: Controlling Garbage and Plastic Wastes at Sea. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4769.
Page 205

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OVERARCHING ISSUES AFFECTING ANNEX V IMPLEMENTATION 203 Surveillance by Citizens Given the vastness of the oceans, it is clear that the U.S. Coast Guard cannot singlehandedly enforce the requirements of Annex V at sea. The MPPRCA envisioned that additional "eyes" for witnessing and reporting violations might be provided by seafarers, beach goers, and vessel passengers. The MPPRCA includes an unprecedented provision that empowers anyone to report a violation. The Act further rewards citizen reporting by authorizing the courts to give some of the fines collected to those reporting the violation. Citizen reporting has proven to be worthwhile. Beginning in 1990, EPA funded a pilot program conducted by the Center for Marine Conservation to develop, test, and evaluate a Citizen Pollution Patrol Program (Podlich, 1992). In addition to educating the maritime community about marine debris and related federal and state regulations, the program was designed to involve citizens in reporting Annex V and MPPRCA violations. A standard form was developed to assist eyewitnesses in documenting suspected violations. In the most highly publicized incident of this type to date, citizen reports led to the criminal conviction of a cruise line operator and the maximum fine allowed— $500,000—for illegal discharge of garbage from a ship (U.S. Department of Justice, 1993). In that case, cruise passengers witnessed and videotaped more than 20 plastic bags of garbage being discharged into the sea near the Florida Keys (U.S. Department of Justice, 1993). If more citizens were educated in how to recognize violations of Annex V and report them, their tips could assist in enforcement. In fact, as mere awareness of the provision for citizen reporting increases, would-be violators may be deterred from carrying out illegal discharges (Weikart, 1993). All mariners should know that they are encouraged to report Annex V violations by any vessel, just as if they had witnessed any other illegal act. The Coast Guard recently added Annex V violations to the types of reports handled by the National Response Center. 9 Through the Coast Guard Auxiliary, a campaign recently was initiated in several states to foster public awareness of how to recognize violations and report them to the center's toll-free telephone number (1-800-424-8802). Plans to expand the campaign nationally should be encouraged. ISSUES RELATED TO SPECIAL AREAS As noted in Chapter 1, MARPOL permits the designation of special areas where overboard discharge of garbage other than food waste is prohibited. The 9 The EPA also has recognized the value of citizens as "watch dogs" for ensuring implementation and enforcement of environmental regulations (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1988).

OVERARCHING ISSUES AFFECTING ANNEX V IMPLEMENTATION 204 convention does not spell out in detail the criteria and characteristics to be considered in designating special areas. Such direction is provided, however, under guidelines recently adopted by the IMO (International Maritime Organization, 1991)10 Significantly, even when the MEPC adopts a proposal for a special area, the requirements become binding only when IMO determines that sufficient numbers of adequate port reception facilities are provided in the region. Eight special areas have been designated under Annex V, although the rules have entered into force in only three.11 Of particular interest to the United States, for reasons of proximity, is the Wider Caribbean special area, which includes the Gulf of Mexico (see Figure 7-1). The United States pushed for the designation of that area12 and has a distinct interest in minimizing pollution there. The U.S. Navy also is concerned with other special areas, such as the Mediterranean Sea, where its missions may demand frequent transits or extended stays. The existence of special areas means that vessels using those waters must achieve zero-discharge capability. An operator can treat garbage on board the vessel, bring the garbage to reception facilities in ports surrounding the special area, hold this garbage for legal discharge at sea or in ports outside the special area, or some combination of these options. All vessels, including U.S.-flag research vessels and cruise ships, have to contend with this mandate when they sail in internationally recognized special areas. Fixed platforms in the Gulf of Mexico already are operating at zero discharge. Eventually, as on-board garbage handling technologies and procedures evolve, awareness of Annex V grows, more special areas come into force13, and adequate port reception facilities become more widely available, zero-discharge capability may become the operating norm. It will be important, therefore, that the U.S. Annex V implementation strategy 10 Among factors to be considered are oceanography, ecological characteristics, social and economic value, scientific and cultural significance, environmental pressures (including those of ship-generated pollution), and measures already in place to protect the local environment. 11 The rules are in force in the Antarctic Ocean, the Baltic Sea, and the North Sea. The other five special areas are the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, and the Wider Caribbean. 12 The United States initially proposed special area status for the Gulf of Mexico in response to public outcry over debris washing up on Texas beaches. Studies indicated that much of the debris was of foreign origin. In reaction to the U.S. proposal, a regional workshop was held in Venezuela, and participants called for extending the special area proposal to include the entire Wider Caribbean, to assure that vessels would not discharge garbage into the Caribbean Sea prior to entering the Gulf of Mexico. The MEPC approved the special area designation in 1991. 13 The number and extent of designated special areas has grown, posing increased challenges for maritime operators. But special areas are unlikely to proliferate without restraint in the near term, because such designations may limit navigational freedoms significantly, and the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention recognized the importance of balancing protection of these freedoms (for the benefit of international commerce) with interests in protecting coastal ecosystems. Nevertheless, pressure to extend special area protections is likely to mount.

OVERARCHING ISSUES AFFECTING ANNEX V IMPLEMENTATION Figure 7-1 The Wider Caribbean Special Area. Source: World Bank Cartography Section. 205

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Marine debris is a serious environmental problem. To do its part, the United States has agreed to abide by the international treaty for garbage control at sea, known as MARPOL 73/78 Annex V.

Clean Ships, Clean Ports, Clean Oceans explores the challenge of translating Annex V into workable laws and regulations for all kinds of ships and boats, from cruise ships to fishing crafts and recreational boats. The volume examines how existing resources can be leveraged into a comprehensive strategy for compliance, including integrated waste management systems and effective enforcement.

Clean Ships, Clean Ports, Clean Oceans describes both progress toward and obstacles to Annex V compliance. The book covers:

  • How shipborne garbage orignates and what happens to garbage discharged into the seas.
  • Effects of discharge on human health, wildlife safety, and aesthetics.
  • Differences in perspective among military, industrial, and recreational seafarers and shoreside facilities.

Clean Ships, Clean Ports, Clean Oceans will be important to marine policymakers, port administrators, ship operations officers, maritime engineers, and marine ecologists.

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