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Suggested Citation:"Control." 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 132

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ELEMENTS OF AN IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGY 132 Control In recent years, the federal government has taken on increased responsibility for the environmental well-being of remote locations in which the United States conducts research. Antarctica, for example, is being cleaned up rapidly after decades of poor garbage disposal practices. Annex V offers a chance to effect a similar change within the government's oceanographic fleet. In the United States, much of the active oceanographic fleet is federally funded. Through direct budget authority, NOAA's budget covers the waste management costs of the agency's fleets. National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsorship of research cruises pays for the waste management costs of the University National Oceanographic Laboratory Systems fleet. Thus, the federal government can exert budgetary control over shipboard practices and can include funding for Annex V compliance in the appropriations for research vessels. The government also can require that research proposals include information on how scientists plan to minimize and handle garbage and give priority to those with appropriate plans. Direct on-site control is limited, however, because most research vessels are not subject to routine government inspections, boardings, or oversight. The principal exception is the NOAA fleet (see sidebar). On federally supported missions, the government can exert some control through selection of supplies and materials and requirements for MARPOL briefings. For instance, NSF has banned the use of foamed plastic "peanuts" as packaging materials for scientific gear aboard NSF-sponsored voyages. The EPA provides information about MARPOL to new ship personnel, researchers, and visitors along with the routine safety briefing. But control is limited when the vessel must rely on disposal facilities in civilian or foreign ports. In some instances, it may be difficult to obtain any garbage disposal services at all. The Surveyor, returning from an extended voyage in a zero-discharge zone, once arrived in a South American port and was refused permission to off-load any garbage. Jammed with about 10 cubic meters (13 cubic yards) of waste, the ship was dubbed "the garbage scow" by the local press. Control also is limited by the characteristics of the current fleet. Engineering and space constraints make it awkward, at best, for owners and operators of oceanographic vessels to install expensive on-board treatment equipment. Expenses for routine maintenance and other repairs virtually preclude the possibility of finding sufficient equipment funds in a vessel's budget to cover refitting the vessel for Annex V compliance. If such upgrades are to be made without depletion of operating accounts, then special funds earmarked for Annex V equipment will need to be provided. On the positive side, there may be minimal need for direct control of behavior in this sector, because marine researchers and oceanographic vessel crews tend to value environmental protection, and they have expressed willingness to comply with the legal mandates. They understand the importance of Annex V

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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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