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New measure come into force to combat pollution from ships in Jamaican waters


The  Caribbean  Sea has been designated a special  area  for  the prevention of  pollution  by  garbage generated by 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. The Special Area status came into force on May 1, 2011. 

With this new status, ships trading in the Caribbean, as well as pleasure craft,  are now  prohibited from  discharging  plastics,  paper products, rags, glass, metals, crockery, dunnage, packing materials  and other forms of ship generated garbage  into the sea. Jamaica  along  with  the  other  Caribbean countries are able to enforce stricter standards on ships calling at ports of entry and  marinas or  when  they are transiting territorial waters.

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.

The new rights however come with some obligations which require the countries bordered by the Caribbean Sea to have in place adequate reception facilities to receive the garbage which the ships have retained on board.   

Over the last eighteen years several initiatives have been commenced to establish waste reception facilities in the major ports of the region with limited success and in Jamaica, guidelines  have now been developed by an interagency committee Chaired by the Maritime Authority of Jamaica and consisting  of  the Quarantine Division of the Ministry of  Health, National Environment and Planning Agency, 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.










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