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Suggested Citation:"Economic Incentives." 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 78

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IMPLEMENTATION 78 Government and Private Regulation and Enforcement Environmental policies and enabling legislation must be accompanied by a commitment to enforcement if the regulatory process is to be successful. It is important to punish violators of environmental laws, which are designed to protect the commons. Annex V, like most environmental regulations, gives new enforcement authority to governments. The matrix details how the drafters of Annex V established both new standards and means to enforce them. Compliance rates are likely to fall if agencies charged with enforcement are not adequately funded or committed to enforcement. If no one ever is punished, then many seafarers will feel no pressure to comply. If no one is even caught, then more seafarers will disregard the law and continue to toss garbage overboard. Clearly, enforcement must serve as a visible deterrent to potential violators. But it is important to acknowledge that enforcement is only one way for a government to intervene. Overemphasizing this responsibility as the major obligation of government could skew implementation of Annex V toward a small group of violators, leaving unmet the needs of seafarers who are trying to comply. In other words, government needs to address the entire hazard evolution process. Regulations have focused on later stages of the hazard evolution process, by punishing illegal garbage discharges and requiring ports to provide reception facilities. Of course, these strategies may affect the upstream points of intervention indirectly, because good enforcement encourages modifications early in the process that reduce the costs of compliance later. The federal government is not the only U.S. regulatory body involved in control of vessel garbage. Some state and local jurisdictions have established regulations that differ from and sometimes are more stringent than federal requirements. (An example is California's quarantine requirements, which are more stringent than federal standards [Mendel, 1992]). This situation may exacerbate the difficulty of complying with Annex V and other related regulations and thereby increase the incidence of violations. The private sector also regulates the garbage disposal practices of employees, clients, and others. Private firms and other organizations can establish internal systems of penalties for violations of Annex V or for policy infractions that could lead to illegal garbage discharge. Economic Incentives If compliance is cheaper than committing a violation, then economic theory holds that seafarers will tend to comply. Several types of interventions encourage compliance by offering an economic benefit or opportunity. Whenever possible, it is important to facilitate compliance in a cost-effective manner. For example, the cost of disposing of vessel garbage in ports varies widely, even for the same service. Furthermore, the basis for the pricing is so variable that it is difficult for vessel operators to assess which ports offer the best value. Costs may be quoted

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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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