National Academies Press: OpenBook

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

Chapter: 2 Sources, Fates, and Effects of Shipborne Garbage

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Suggested Citation:"2 Sources, Fates, and Effects of Shipborne Garbage." 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 32

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SOURCES, FATES, AND EFFECTS OF SHIPBORNE GARBAGE 32 2 Sources, Fates, and Effects of Shipborne Garbage Full implementation of Annex V depends in part on the development of a comprehensive understanding of the sources, fates, and effects of vessel garbage, because this information suggests where interventions are needed. To date, scientific understanding of these phenomena is uneven, and certain aspects have yet to be examined at all. This chapter outlines what is known and identifies important gaps in knowledge. The chapter opens with an overview of techniques for identifying and monitoring vessel garbage in the marine environment. The heart of the chapter is divided into three sections. The first describes the nine fleets examined by the committee as sources of vessel garbage. The second section outlines what is known about the fate of vessel garbage discarded into the marine environment. The last section and a supporting appendix summarize the effects of vessel garbage and other marine debris on aesthetic enjoyment of oceans and beaches, human health, and the ecology of the marine environment. Although the ill effects of such debris are acknowledged and often visible, they are often difficult to quantify and understand in terms beyond the harm inflicted on marine life. Information on effects is included not only for the sake of completeness, but also because it may be useful in development of educational programs (Chapter 6) and benchmarks for measuring progress in Annex V implementation (Chapter 8). In tracking vessel garbage, it is important to recognize that an estimate of the quantity of garbage generated is not a measure of the amount handled by onboard treatment technologies or port reception facilities. Annex V permits vessel operators to discharge into the oceans non-plastic materials that float, food wastes, and other garbage, so long as the vessel is the prescribed distance from shore

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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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