National Academies Press: OpenBook

Clean Ships, Clean Ports, Clean Oceans: Controlling Garbage and Plastic Wastes at Sea (1995)

Chapter: Assessing Annex V Implementation Internationally

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Suggested Citation:"Assessing Annex V Implementation Internationally." 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.
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Page 212
Suggested Citation:"Assessing Annex V Implementation Internationally." 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.
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Page 213

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MEASURING PROGRESS IN IMPLEMENTATION OF ANNEX V 212 mentation, this strategy could be extremely useful in suggesting where the two agencies' monitoring and enforcement efforts should be directed. In selecting the types of data to be recorded, it would be important to go beyond numbers of violations, prosecutions, or permits and attempt to document the process of building a permanent Annex V implementation regime— that is, to collect data reflecting why compliance problems arise. For instance, did a vessel fall to off-load garbage in a particular port because the reception facilities were full or not available? Did the crew discharge plastics overboard because they didn't know this practice was illegal? Routine collection of information about mariners' attitudes and behaviors would be useful in identifying where interventions were needed, and in satisfying the need (documented in Chapter 6) for evaluation of Annex V education programs. The data bank could be enhanced further if cargo and cruise ships were required to off-load garbage at all U.S. port calls, and these discharges were recorded. (Surveys might be a more effective tool for small vessels.) At present, few ports are recording information on total weight of debris and usage of dumpsters. While neither Annex V nor the Marine Plastics Pollution Research and Control Act require vessels to off-load garbage, some other nations do mandate it upon both arrival and departure. Another approach would be to model and then monitor vessel-port garbage transactions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains a computer model for solid waste management and might adapt it for ships or ports. The amounts of garbage off-loaded from ships in ports could be sampled or audited, and these data could be entered into the model to provide, over time, some indication as to whether the amounts were consistent based on days at sea, crew size, and vessel type. This approach would need to be applied to all sizes and types of ports, including small piers and marinas. In fact, it would be more important to conduct such studies in smaller ports, where there are no other methods for examining garbage disposal (such as routine Coast Guard and APHIS boardings and inspections). Assessing Annex V Implementation Internationally Both the International Maritime Organization and the U.S. government have mandated that potential polluters document their actions. Recently, some governments also have obliged waste management companies to "manifest" garbage shipments just as shippers keep records of cargos and shipping transactions. Such data could be useful in measuring Annex V implementation internationally. However, the history of international agreements shows that reporting—even when mandated—is generally poor, casting doubt on the effectiveness of such an approach. In 1991, the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) was asked by the Congress to assess compliance with reporting requirements in a number of interna-

MEASURING PROGRESS IN IMPLEMENTATION OF ANNEX V 213 tional agreements. The purpose was to determine whether international environmental agreements are effective, and whether nations are living up to their obligations. What the GAO discovered was reflected in the title selected for the report, International Agreements Are Not Well Monitored (U.S. General Accounting Office, 1992). Reporting mandates often are placed in international treaties. The purpose of such mandates is to prompt compliance: Nations may risk international disapproval and retaliation if evidence reveals numerous violations and weak enforcement responses. Reporting requirements also give the international community a way to quantify over time any trends in compliance (i.e., the overall efficacy of multilateral arrangements). But, as the GAO report points out, compliance with reporting requirements is not a reliable indicator of compliance with international standards. Similarly, failure to report does not indicate the nation is violating the substantive obligations of the agreement. Record keeping to fulfill treaty reporting requirements may be beyond the administrative capacity of a government for a variety of reasons. While the reports submitted to international secretariats are not a perfect measure of the efficacy of international agreements, they are the sole evidence of what is actually happening worldwide in fulfillment of treaty obligations. Equally importantly, these reports are indicative of the practical limits of government surveillance of, and control over, the behavior of seafarers while at sea. The GAO studied the following eight agreements: the Montreal Protocol (which addresses ozone depletion), the Nitrogen Oxides Protocol (acid rain), the Basel Convention (transport of hazardous wastes), the London Dumping Convention, MARPOL (Annex I only), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the International Whaling Convention, and the International Tropical Timber Agreement (ITTA). Seven of the eight currently require that members report annually on implementation (although the information requested usually is limited to numbers of permits issued, violations detected, or inspections conducted). The GAO found that reporting fell far short of what was mandated, and the few reports that were submitted often were incomplete and late. The GAO determined that, in most cases, the respective secretariat is ill equipped to press for better performance. Furthermore, because of their small size, lack of authority, and scant resources, secretariats are equally unable to assess implementation independently. Most of the agreements examined provide measurable performance standards. CITES, for example, creates a permit system to ban trade in endangered species and control trade in threatened ones. The International Whaling Convention sets annual harvest quotas. MARPOL Annex I establishes specific limits on the amount of oil that can be discharged: Yet high rates of reporting on compliance were found for only three of the conventions studied: the Montreal Protocol, the Nitrogen Oxides Protocol, and the International Whaling Convention. Less

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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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