Jamaica’s Maritime Authority is set to get tough on pollution as new measures come into force to combat pollution in the Caribbean Sea.
On May 1, 2011 the Caribbean Sea became a Special Area for the prevention of pollution by garbage generated from ships in accordance with the provisions of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1978 as amended , commonly known as the MARPOL Convention. MAJ Director of Legal Affairs, Bertrand Smith, welcomed the move saying: “The designation marks a significant milestone for the protection of the marine environment of Jamaica and the Wider Caribbean Region.”
From now on ships trading in the Caribbean, including pleasure crafts, are prohibited from discharging any ship-generated garbage – including plastics, paper products, rags, glass, metals, crockery, dunnage and packing materials – into the sea. Jamaica, along with the other Caribbean countries, is able to enforce stricter standards on ships calling at its ports and marinas or when they are transiting Jamaican territorial waters.
Mr Smith explained: “Although shipping contributes less than ten percent of the pollution of the marine environment, the ability to enforce the stricter standards for the discharge of garbage is an important measure to protect the fragile marine resources on which most of the Caribbean countries depend for tourism and fishing.”
Countries washed by the Caribbean Sea now must have in place adequate reception facilities to receive the garbage which the ships have retained on board. In Jamaica guidelines have now been developed by an inter-agency committee consisting of the Quarantine Division of the Ministry of Health, the National Environment and Planning Agency, the Maritime Authority of Jamaica, the Port Authority of Jamaica and the National Solid Waste Management Authority to ensure that Jamaica meets its MARPOL Convention obligations while managing the risks associated with ship generated wastes. This week Mr. Smith gave a presentation to Jamaican Shipping Agents advising them of how to be vigilant and ensure the new guidelines are adhered to.
Well over 3,000 commercial ships visit Jamaica each year, particularly container vessels. Before the new regulations were brought in, the Caribbean area suffered problems from the unregulated collection and discharge of ship-generated garbage and sludge, illegal discharge of oil and garbage in coastal waters and illegal discharges of oily waste in mangroves, canefields etc.