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DIMENSIONS OF THE CHALLENGE AND U.S. PROGRESS 15 communities and federal and state agencies throughout the United States now spend public monies or rely on volunteers to clean debris from beaches on a regular basis. The direct and indirect costs of marine debrisâincluding the costs of beach cleanups, lost tourism, maintenance and repairs to damaged vessels, lost fishing time, and ''ghost fishing'' by lost nets and trapsâcannot be appraised without an assessment of the quantities and types of marine debris, but the total could be in the billions of dollars.1 Thus, from many perspectives, improperly discarded vessel garbage and other types of marine debris are a burden on society. INTERNATIONAL AND U.S. MANDATES A linchpin of early international efforts to control disposal of vessel garbage was the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (1973) and its 1978 Protocol, known collectively as MARPOL 73/78. The convention was developed under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialized, multilateral United Nations agency that serves as the principal global forum for negotiating treaties and convening diplomatic conferences related to maritime safety and pollution control. MARPOL is administered primarily by IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), to which the United States regularly sends participants. As of mid-1994, MARPOL had been signed by 83 nations, including the United States; the first part of the convention, Annex I, entered into force in 1983.2 MARPOL currently includes five annexes, each addressing the control of a different type of pollutant: Annex I (oil), Annex II (noxious liquid substances), Annex HI (packaged goods), Annex IV (sewage), and Annex V (garbage). Still under development is Annex VI (air pollution). All parties to MARPOL must adhere to Annex I and Annex II but have the option of ratifying the other annexes; once a nation ratifies an additional annex, compliance with it becomes mandatory. This report focuses solely on Annex V, which first entered into force on December 31, 1988 and by the end of 1993 had been ratified by 65 nations. Even though ratification of Annex V is optional, MARPOL signatories have 1 The costs of routine beach cleanup alone may justify the effort to reduce marine debris (although not necessarily the effort to manage vessel garbage, which is only one source of beach debris). An informal survey conducted in 1993 for the Center for Marine Conservation revealed annual costs for beach cleanup ranging from $24,240 per mile in Virginia Beach to $119,530 per mile in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The costs to coastal communities can escalate further when debris problems capture public attention. According to one study, medical waste appearing on beaches during the summers of 1987 and 1988 caused an estimated $1 billion in tourism losses in New Jersey (R.L. Associates, 1988). 2 MARPOL took effect once signed by 15 nations representing more than 50 percent of the world fleet.
DIMENSIONS OF THE CHALLENGE AND U.S. PROGRESS 16 moved forward in an effort to protect their shores and coastal waters from the harmful effects of vessel garbage and other types of marine debris. Annex V addresses solid waste generated during normal vessel operations at sea, on fixed and floating platforms, and in port, as well as the solid waste generated by economic activities, such as fishing and oil and gas production, carried out on these vessels and structures. (The full annex and the IMO implementation guidelines are reproduced in Appendix B.) The key components of solid waste are domestic garbage, including galley waste and food packaging; operational wastes, such as old fishing gear, fish processing materials, and items generated through vessel maintenance; and cargo-related garbage, such as packaging materials and dunnage.3 The Annex V control strategy emphasizes performance rather than specific techniques; discharges are restricted by location and material but the regulations do not specify how compliance should be accomplished. Figure 1-1 summarizes the at-sea garbage discharge restrictions. The performance standards vary depending on how harmful particular materials are believed to be and how long they persist in the marine environment. The most notable standard is for plastics: No plastic may be discarded overboard, except in rare cases such as emergencies. This means all plastic must be stored on board for disposal in port reception facilities; incineration is also an option, with disposal of the resulting ash in an appropriate shore facility. (On vessels entering U.S. ports from foreign shores, domestic regulations require that "food-contaminated" plastics be stored separately, because the organic residues could harbor disease and pests.) In practice, the plastics prohibition is key to the implementation of Annex V worldwide; until all mariners can comply with this standard, implementation is incomplete. In addition, Annex V provides for the designation of special areas in the seas where no garbage may be discharged except, under certain conditions, food waste.4 Thus, vessels that transit special areas must have zero- discharge capability. Proper garbage handling practices need to be devised and followed because plastics are highly functional materials and will continue to be available. The basic approaches employed by fleets are waste reduction, which includes reducing amounts of plastics and packaging brought on board; installation of on- 3 Dunnage is timber, pallets, and other packing material used to protect cargo from damage during transport. 4 The additional protection given to special areas is as follows: No discharges are allowed of plastics, dunnage, lining and packing materials, or other garbage, including paper, rags, glass, metal, bottles, and crockery. Only food wastes may be discharged, as far as practicable from shore but in no case less than 12 nautical miles from the nearest land (except in the Wider Caribbean special area, where comminuted [i.e., ground] food waste may be discharged outside 3 nautical miles from shore). Mixtures of garbage and/ or other discharges must be treated in accordance with the most stringent requirements applicable to any part of the mixture.
DIMENSIONS OF THE CHALLENGE AND U.S. PROGRESS FIGURE 1-1 Summary of the at-sea garbage discharge restrictions. Source: Center for Marine Conservation. 17
DIMENSIONS OF THE CHALLENGE AND U.S. PROGRESS 18 board garbage treatment technologies, such as compactors, pulpers, and incinerators; and return of materials to shore for disposal or recycling. Implementation of MARPOL among signatories has been monitored poorly (U.S. General Accounting Office, 1992) and the monitoring methods now available seem ineffective.5 Still, certain problems are evident. Most notably, enforcement has been hampered by ambiguities concerning the fights of port states to pursue violations by foreign-flag vessels (a concept known as port state enforcement).6 Port states have extensive powers to either impose their own rules or enforce international conventions. The United States recently changed its MARPOL enforcement policy to expand its exercise of port state enforcement authorities with respect to violations by foreign-flag vessels within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), a 200-nautical-mile-wide band around the coastline. But the United States may not be exercising fully its fights to control pollution from vessels. Port state authority to enforce international rules and standards outside the EEZ is established by the Third United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III), which was adopted in 1982 and entered into force in late 1994. (The implications of UNCLOS III, including effects on port state authorities, are addressed in more detail in Appendix C. Enforcement of Annex V in general is discussed in Chapter 7.) The United States became the 21st signatory to Annex V in 1987, and the regulations took effect a year later. As is routine with international conventions, each signatory nation is responsible for enacting domestic laws to implement the convention and effectively pledges to comply with the Annex V-related laws of other nations. As a world leader, the United States is expected not only to comply with Annex V, but also to lead efforts to develop and implement standards worldwide. Accordingly, numerous steps have been taken to implement Annex V (see 5 The General Accounting Office (GAO) found, for example, that only 13 of (at that time) 57 parties to MARPOL had satisfied treaty obligations to provide IMO with information on MARPOL Annex I violations and penalties imposed. (Additional results of the GAO study are summarized in Chapter 7.) 6 A port state is a nation in which foreign-flag vessels make port calls. Under the Third United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III), port state enforcement refers to the right of a state, when a foreign vessel is voluntarily in its ports or at an offshore terminal, to undertake investigations and, if warranted, institute proceedings with respect to violations of applicable international rules and standards. Enforcement, for purposes of this report, includes any actions taken to obtain some remedy for violations of Annex V. Such actions may include pursuit of a civil or criminal case against an alleged violator, referral of a case involving a foreign-flag vessel to the appropriate flag state, and record keeping as a means of keeping track of repeat violators. The flag state is the nation where a vessel is registered; flag states have primary responsibility for ensuring that penalties for MARPOL violations are assessed. The United States may act as either a port state or a flag state, depending on the facts of a situation, including whether the vessel in question is registered in the United States. See Appendix C for a more complete explanation of the rights and responsibilities of port states and flag states under UNCLOS III.
DIMENSIONS OF THE CHALLENGE AND U.S. PROGRESS 19 TABLE 1-1 Fleets Examined Recreational boats Commercial fisheries Cargo ships Passenger day boats and ferries Small public vessels Offshore platforms/rigs/supply vessels U.S. Navy surface combatant vessels Passenger cruise ships Research vessels Appendix D). But U.S. implementation of Annex V has been complicated and frustrated by four major factors in addition to those challenging other signatories. First, unlike a domestic environmental law, Annex V was not crafted to fit neatly into the federal governance structure. When domestic legislation is drafted, its substance typically reflects knowledge of which agencies can bring resources and authority to the problem at hand. In sharp contrast, an international agreement must be accepted in its generic, all-purpose form, leaving the signatory nation to devise a manageable implementation program. The challenge of transforming a sweeping international mandate into a national regime was particularly formidable in the case of Annex V, because the requirements affect a community so broad as to exceed the boundaries of the conventional U.S. regulatory regime. IMO rules typically affect only commercial mariners, who are regulated by the Coast Guard; Annex V rules extend to most seafarers, meaning that, in the United States, numerous federal agencies have some role in implementing the convention across a number of fleets. Nine fleets are addressed in this report (see Table 1:1).7 The second complicating factor has been the expansion of the international mandate by the U.S. implementing law, the Marine Plastics Pollution Research and Control Act (MPPRCA) of 1987 (P.L. 100-220). Warships are exempt from MARPOL requirements. But the MPPRCA applies to all vessels on virtually all U.S. waters 8 and to all U.S.-flag vessels anywhere in the world, specifically imposing Annex V standards on the Navy fleet, which was recognized as a major producer of garbage. The MPPRCA did incorporate a grace period for Navy compliance, to allow for an orderly shift in practices and equipment. The Navy 7 Seven of the nine fleets are obvious choices. In addition to those seven, the committee considered offshore oil and gas drilling platforms, rigs, and supply vessels to be a fleet. The other choice that requires some explanation is "small public vessels," which includes the Coast Guard, naval auxiliaries, and other small government vessels. These were grouped together because they have comparable mission and operating constraints. Additional details about all the fleets may be found in Chapters 2 and 4. 8 The exception is waters under the exclusive jurisdiction of a state.
DIMENSIONS OF THE CHALLENGE AND U.S. PROGRESS 20 has pursued both managerial and technical initiatives and can comply with basic requirements for discharge of non-plastic garbage. The challenge is so great that the grace period has been extended to 1998 for the plastics ban and the year 2000 for special area requirements. The third factor is the U.S. requirement for the quarantine inspection and disposal of food-contaminated garbage from any vessel or aircraft arriving from a foreign port. 9 Quarantine serves an important public health purpose, and these requirements, enforced by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), have been in place since the mid-1950s. Unfortunately, the APHIS requirements, while independent of Annex V, may have hindered its implementation by creating confusion and added burdens for vessel and port operators. These problems exist in part because the APHIS regime has not been integrated fully with either the Annex V implementation program or the land- based waste management system. Finally, implementation of Annex V also has been delayed by ambiguous requirements for port reception facilities, which are critical to proper management of vessel garbage. Annex V requires only that such facilities be "adequate," and U.S. port operators are on their own in determining precisely what that means.10 The United States does not have a national port authority as most other nations do and, furthermore, it has not integrated management of vessel garbage with the disposal system for land-generated waste. Port reception facilities are regulated, but with limited effectiveness. A Certificate of Adequacy (COA) verifying compliance with MARPOL must be obtained by ports or terminals serving ocean-going vessels of 400 gross tons or more carrying oil or noxious liquid substances, or fishing vessels landing more than 500,000 pounds of commercial catch per calendar year. The Coast Guard has legal authority to close a port that fails to comply. Reception facilities (but not COAs) also are required at other U.S. ports and terminals, including commercial fishing piers, shore bases for the offshore oil and gas industry, and marinas capable of providing wharfage or other services for 10 or more recreational boats. However, neither the COA program nor the non-COA requirements have resulted in any significant improvement in port side garbage management facilities or operations because there are no technical standards for judging what is adequate. Furthermore, the many small, unattended piers and launch ramps throughout the United States are not required to have reception facilities. 9 In theory, APHIS requirements apply to all vessels that have visited a foreign port before arriving in the United States; in practice, the standards are enforced only for cargo ships and passenger cruise ships. 10 General guidance is provided (see Code of Federal Regulations. Title 33, Section 158) but them are no technical standards. Proposed MPPRCA amendments would require Coast Guard inspections of port reception facilities, but, even if these requirements were adopted, the absence of technical standards would allow for wide variations in "adequacy." (Henceforth, references to the Code will be abbreviated using the format 33 C.F.R. Â§158).