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Suggested Citation:"Cargo Ships." 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 43

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SOURCES, FATES, AND EFFECTS OF SHIPBORNE GARBAGE 43 lines, hooks, traps, and packing bands and containers for frozen bait. The preferred materials for nets are polyethylenes and polypropylenes, which float, so nets lost or discarded overboard are likely to drift and wash ashore, or sink as they accumulate denser materials. Monofilament lines typically are made of nylon, which sinks. Substantial amounts of gear may be lost due to storms, entanglements on reefs and rocks, and other mishaps. Lost or discarded fishing equipment causes significant harm to wildlife, as documented later in this chapter. Provided that "all reasonable precautions" are taken to prevent such mishaps, accidental losses are not violations of Annex V (which addresses deliberate discharges only), but the IMO implementation guidelines encourage measures to prevent and recover lost gear. Fishermen have economic motivations to comply with Annex V. More than other seafarers, fishermen rely on the well-being of the oceans for their livelihood and enjoyment; moreover, the capture or entanglement of plastic debris on hooks, in trawls, and in propellers is a costly nuisance. Some fisheries communities are striving to implement the mandate. For instance, in a new program for the Gulf of Maine and Cape Cod Bay, fishermen, fishing ports, and state governments are working with local governments to encourage all vessel operators to return their garbage ashore, and to establish appropriate reception facilities in fishing ports. Within the recreational fishing community, a number of tackle manufacturers have initiated recycling programs for monofilament fishing lines. However, much remains to be accomplished in fisheries communities. Only the very largest fishing ports, such as Seattle, can accommodate all the garbage generated by the commercial fishing fleet; obsolete and worn-out gear and plastic food containers continue to end up in the water and on shorelines. Cargo Ships The U.S. merchant fleet operating along the coasts includes U.S.-flag vessels in domestic or international trade, and an international trade fleet of foreign-flag vessels that call at U.S. ports.6 Some 7,800 different cargo ships call at U.S. ports each year; this figure reflects the true size of this sector more accurately than does the small domestic fleet. The U.S.-flag fleet is just over 400 ships, ranging from breakbulk carriers that may operate anywhere in the world to liquified natural gas tankers that may serve only specialized ports. The average crew complement on 6 The domestic fleet of U.S.-flag vessels, including coastal tows, moves cargoes originating in domestic ports to other U.S. ports. An example would be a chemical tanker moving small lots of specialty chemicals from a Gulf of Mexico port to ports along the Atlantic coast. The international trade fleet of U.S.-flag vessels moves cargoes between the United States and other nations but may call at several U.S. ports on any given voyage. The international trade fleet of foreign-flag vessels moves cargoes to and from the United States, often calling at more than one U.S. port.

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Clean Ships, Clean Ports, Clean Oceans: Controlling Garbage and Plastic Wastes at Sea Get This Book
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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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