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« Previous: Assessing Annex V Implementation Internationally
Suggested Citation:"Surveys of Beach Debris." 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 214
Suggested Citation:"Surveys of Beach Debris." 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 215

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MEASURING PROGRESS IN IMPLEMENTATION OF ANNEX V 214 than half the membership of CITES, the London Dumping Convention, MARPOL, and ITTA filed their required reports. A mere 13 of the then-57 signatories to MARPOL had provided the secretariat with the required information on violations and penalties imposed. Only 59 percent of the parties had reported on the availability of (Annex I) oily waste reception facilities as mandated. With regard to CITES, only 25 of the 104 parties had delivered their annual reports containing information on trade in listed species. The GAO stated that "most parties either submit reports that are late, incomplete, or in the wrong format, or do not submit any report at all." The GAO noted that secretariats are limited in authority and ability to assess compliance independently. CITES stands as the only agreement that specifically grants the secretariat the role of assessing compliance. Through a contract with a private organization, the Wildlife Trade Monitoring Unit, CITES data are analyzed and the violations summarized in a report. The secretariat then can recommend trade sanctions. Most secretariats are not positioned to verify information received from member governments; rather, they act as facilitators and information clearinghouses. The GAO study also concluded that secretariats are typically small with very limited funding and lacking in the resources to undertake more systematic monitoring. No matter who does it, monitoring of international agreements is a major assignment. The Committee on Shipborne Wastes certainly has been challenged by the task of assembling the information needed to report on Annex V implementation across all fleets in the United States. To do so on an annual basis would require a level of organization and effort that does not now exist anywhere for collecting data on any international agreement. ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING Environmental monitoring is an important aspect of environmental management. A monitoring system involves not only field assessments and data analysis but also integrated and coordinated activities with "the specified goal of producing predefined management information; it is the sensory component of environmental management" (National Research Council, 1990). Of great significance in the present context is the high cost of not monitoring; failure to monitor adequately poses a serious impediment to efforts to protect marine environmental quality (National Research Council, 1990). Surveys of Beach Debris Progress in implementation of Annex V could be measured most directly by changes in the flux of vessel garbage to beaches and the sea floor. Obtaining precise data is difficult. Two criteria govern the validity and utility of such measurement. First, the materials surveyed must be identifiable as vessel-gener-

MEASURING PROGRESS IN IMPLEMENTATION OF ANNEX V 215 ated garbage. Second, quality assurance and quality control practices are essential to assure scientifically valid results. There are few, if any, surveillance programs designed to test the effectiveness of Annex V implementation. One that has some relevance is a monitoring program on a remote island in the South Atlantic, Inaccessible Island of the Tristan da Cuna group, where an exponential increase in the amount of beach litter was noted between 1984 and 1990 (Ryan and Moloney, 1993). Eighty percent of the debris was plastic, with most items having a source in South America, more than 3,000 kilometers away. The amount of debris originating from vessels was not ascertained. (Even when debris can be traced, it is difficult to use this information to determine whether a violation of Annex V occurred [Amos, 1993].) While current surveillance programs are not oriented specifically to Annex V, extensive activities are devoted to studying the types, amounts, and sources of debris on coastal beaches and to heightening awareness of the marine debris problem. Much of the data has been gathered by the Center for Marine Conservation (CMC), which launched a beach cleanup campaign in 1986 in Texas. The effort has evolved into the annual International Coastal Cleanup Campaign, which relies on a network of state and country coordinators to organize thousands of citizens.1 The purpose of the event is not only to clean the beaches but also to collect data on the types and amounts of debris. The CMC produces an annual report, which provides data broken down at the national, state, and local levels. Reports of wildlife entangled or otherwise affected by debris are compiled. While identifying sources of debris is difficult even for trained experts, citizens have provided useful information, such as findings of debris traceable to cruise lines based on company names on product labels. The use of volunteers to gather data is attractive from both an economic and a social perspective. However, whether volunteers can gather scientifically sound data is subject to debate. Amos (1993) noted a marked difference between beach surveys done by volunteers and those by scientists. In this single experiment, the volunteers appeared to under-count debris items by about 50 percent. A similar problem was reported at Padre Island (Miller, 1993). If volunteers are to be used to gather data for scientific purposes, then they need to be trained in data collection techniques. There also needs to be scientific oversight to assure adherence to research protocols (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1988). In recent years, there has been increasing recognition of the need to standardize monitoring methods. Without such standards, there is no baseline to which new data can be compared, and data cannot be shared among the various monitor- 1 In 1992, this one-day event involved more than 160,000 volunteers in 33 countries (Hodge et al., 1993). Since then, the effort has expanded to include more than 222,000 volunteers in 40 countries.

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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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