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Implementation of Marine Pollution Treaties and International Agreements

Land-Based Sources (LBS) Protocol Enters into Force

October 2010: The Land-Based Sources (LBS) Protocol entered into force. The LBS Protocol provides the framework for addressing pollution based on national and regional needs and priorities, focusing on addressing sources of pollution and the development of best management practices to prevent, reduce and control pollution in the Wider Caribbean Region.

EPA continues to play a leadership role for the U.S. government in projects under the UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme. Learn more

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    Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities

    The Global Programme of Action Exit EPA disclaimer for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities (GPA) is designed to be a source of conceptual and practical guidance for national and/or regional authorities to devise and implement sustained actions to prevent, reduce, control and/or eliminate marine degradation from land-based activities. On November 5, 1995, the GPA was adopted at an intergovernmental meeting in Washington, DC. The aims of the GPA are:
    .preventing the degradation of the marine environment from land-based activities by facilitating the realization of the duty of States to preserve and protect the marine environment. [The GPA] is designed to assist States in taking actions individually or jointly within their respective policies priorities and resources, which will lead to the prevention, reduction, control and /or elimination of degradation of the marine environment, as well as to its recovery from the impacts of land-based activities. Achievement of the aims of the Programme of Action will contribute to maintaining and, where appropriate, ensuring the protection of human health, as well as promoting the conservation and sustainable use of marine living resources.

    The recommendations and principles contained in the GPA are used to focus policy decisions, regional initiatives and international cooperation to protect human health and marine environmental resources.


    Land-Based Sources Protocol for the Wider Caribbean Region

    EPA lead the negotiations for the Protocol Concerning Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities Exit EPA disclaimer (LBS Protocol), which was signed in 1999 in Aruba, Netherlands Antilles, and entered into force in 2010 at the Cartagena Convention. The LBS Protocol is a legally binding protocol to the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Exit EPA disclaimer (Cartagena Convention). The Wider Caribbean Region includes those countries that border: (a) eastern Florida south of 30 north latitude, (b) the Straits of Florida, (c) the Gulf of Mexico or (d) the Caribbean Sea. The seaward boundary of the region is the 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone of each country.

    The United Nations Environment Programme/ Caribbean Environment Programme Exit EPA disclaimer (UNEP/CEP) is the Secretariat for the Land-Based Sources (LBS) Protocol. Projects are implemented through: (1) the Assessment and Management of Environmental Pollution Exit EPA disclaimer (AMEP) program, and (2) the Programme of Action for the Small Islands Developing States Exit EPA disclaimer (SIDS) of the Eastern Caribbean.

    In addition to staff in Washington, DC, EPA staff in the Caribbean Environmental Protection Division provide expertise and coordination with countries of the Wider Caribbean Region. The Office of International Affairs also coordinates with experts in EPA's Gulf of Mexico Program on pollution prevention issues.

    The LBS Protocol Exit EPA disclaimer incorporates the following general obligations to address land-based sources of pollution in the Wider Caribbean Region:

    Each Contracting Party shall, in accordance with its laws, the provisions of this Protocol, and international law, take appropriate measures to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the Convention area from land-based sources and activities, using for this purpose the best practicable means at its disposal and in accordance with its capabilities.

    Office of International and Tribal Affairs staff are leading the U.S. interagency workgroup responsible for marine pollution policy in the Wider Caribbean Region, including, development of three critical programs for implementation of the LBS Protocol, focusing on:

    1. Domestic sewage and infrastructure (LBS Protocol Annex III).
    2. Bilateral projects addressing agricultural runoff (LBS Protocol Annex IV).
    3. Coordinated research activities with EPA's Office of Research and Development (ORD), EPA Regional Offices (Region 2, Region 4 and Region 6), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA National Ocean Service, International Program Office) and other Federal agencies to improve our understanding of pollution trends in the Wider Caribbean.

    For further information on EPA's involvement with the LBS Protocol, contact Marianne Bailey.


    Antifouling Paints

    EPA's Office of International and Tribal Affairs (OITA) led an interagency working group negotiating U.S. policy for the draft global antifouling treaty under development at the International Maritime Organization Exit EPA disclaimer (IMO). The treaty was completed in October 2001.

    NOTE: To access Antifouling Treaty information on IMO's Web site, enter the site and select "Marine Environment." Next, select "Antifouling Systems."


    Air Pollution

    EPA is leading U.S. Government efforts to address air pollution from ships including discussions at the International Maritime Organization Exit EPA disclaimer (IMO) relating to MARPOL 73/78 Annex VI and greenhouse gas emissions from ships.

    NOTE: To access the Air Pollution annex of MARPOL 73/78, enter the IMO Web site and select "Marine Environment." Next, select "Pollution Prevention," then select "Air Pollution."


    Ballast Water Discharges

    EPA is a member of an interagency working group for the U.S. delegation to IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee Exit EPA disclaimer (MEPC). The committee is currently engaged in development of a global treaty for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments that is intended to reduce the introduction of harmful aquatic species. This Convention will be a global treaty on the management of ballast water. Exit EPA disclaimer


    Cruise Ships

    Staff from the Office of International and Tribal Affairs and the Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watershed (OWOW) are working to develop the Agency's policy and management recommendations for cruise ships. EPA is responding to a letter from more than 50 environmental organizations to reduce pollution from cruise ships in U.S. and international waters.


    For further information on EPA's involvement with vessel pollution initiatives, contact Brian Muehling.


    The Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter Exit EPA disclaimer (commonly refered to as the London Convention) was signed in London in 1972. Article I of the London Convention states:

    Contracting Parties shall individually and collectively promote the effective control of all sources of pollution of the marine environment, and pledge themselves especially to take all practicable steps to prevent the pollution of the sea by the dumping of waste and other matter that is liable to create hazards to human health, to harm living resources and marine life, to damage amenities or to interfere with other legitimate uses of the sea.

    In 1996, a Protocol was developed to amend the London Convention to ban ocean disposal of radioactive wastes and incineration at sea. Article II of the 1996 Protocol defines the objectives of this amendment as:

    Contracting Parties shall individually and collectively protect and preserve the marine environment from all sources of pollution and take effective measures, according to their scientific, technical and economic capabilities, to prevent, reduce and where practicable eliminate pollution caused by dumping or incineration at sea of wastes or other matter. Where appropriate, they shall harmonize their policies in this regard.

    The Office of International and Tribal Affairs works very closely with other EPA offices, including the Oceans and Coastal Protection Division (OCPD), the Office of Air and Radiation (OAR) and ORD and other Federal agencies, including the Department of State, the Coast Guard, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Oceanic and Atmoshpheric Administration (NOAA NOS) to coordinate the U.S. Government's policies on the London Convention and discussions about ratification of the 1996 Protocol. We also work with the same Federal agencies to develop consistent national policies to implement Title I of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act (Ocean Dumping Act), the domestic law governing ocean disposal of material in waters of the United States from the baseline to the boundary of the 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone.

    For further information on EPA's involvement with the London Convention, contact Marianne Bailey.


    EPA's Oceans and Coastal Protection Division (OCPD) is the primary office working on coral reef protection issues. The Office of International and Tribal Affairs supports the work of OCPD through participation in the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) and the International Coral Reef Initiative Exit EPA disclaimer (ICRI). EPA also works closely with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on coral reef issues.

    For further information on the Office of International and Tribal Affairs' involvement in the protection of coral reefs, contact Marianne Bailey.


    EPA works on marine protection in the Arctic through the Arctic Council and its working groups. To learn more about marine and other activities in the Arctic, visit our Arctic Council site.


    For additional information about EPA's international marine pollution programs, refer to the following pages on the EPA Web site:


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