JIS News

Come May 1, 2011, the wider Caribbean region will be officially designated a Special Area by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
This designation follows decisive action taken at the 60th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of IMO, March 22 to 26, which resulted in the adoption of a resolution prohibiting the discharge of all garbage by ships in the Wider Caribbean Region.
The region will become the sixth IMO zone to be protected against the discharge of all garbage from ships.
To ensure readiness for this new designation, the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ) hosted a two-day workshop involving participants from Caribbean countries.
Consultant with the Regional Activity Centre/Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Information and Training Centre for the Wider Caribbean, (RAC/ REMPEITC-Caribe), Andrew Woods, explained that the workshop aims to assist in the implementation of Annex I (oil) and Annex (V) (garbage) of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).
“We are ensuring that the countries participating in the workshop are aware of the requirements, and are moving forward with their own laws and regulations to give them the tools they need to enforce these requirements in the region; not only vessels in port but those transiting through their waters,” Mr. Woods said.
He explained that this designation for the Wider Caribbean Region signals the culmination of a process, which started 20 years earlier.
In 1991, IMO designated the Caribbean region a special area, however, the process was delayed because of the delay in some countries ratifying the convention.
“There are certain minimum requirements for countries to ratify the convention before it goes into effect, and that is why it has taken so long for that to happen. The challenge is that, before it came into effect, countries had to report to the IMO that they had adequate reception facilities,” he explained.
A total of 22 countries have since informed the IMO that they have these facilities, Mr. Wood said.
The RAC Consultant added that the workshop would educate the enforcement ministries and agencies in the region, on the need to have adequate legislations in place, to be able to prosecute offenders and to be equipped with the means to protect and enforce the convention.
He explained that, without adequate reception facilities and the necessary legislative support, countries in the region will remain powerless in efforts to inhibit, or prosecute, vessels travelling in the region from discharging engine room waste or garbage during normal operations.
Director of RAC/REMPEITC-Caribe, Thomas Smith, said the importance of the workshop was to try to get countries become party to the Marpol Convention, particularly Annex 1 and 5. Without this convention, enforcement is not possible, so if the ships pollute the waters the nations remain powerless, he added.
He noted that, after the workshop, participants are expected to go back to their countries and get their respective governments to ratify the convention through the IMO.
Jamaica is making its own preparations to ensure that the measures are in place for May, 2011. Director of Legal Affairs at the MAJ, Bertrand Smith, said that it has been working in conjunction with the Port Authority of Jamaica, the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) and the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), to ensure systems are in place to manage the receival and disposal of the waste.
“There is a framework in place in respect of these guidelines which requires these contractors to be licensed, and for formal notification to be given to us in terms of the volume and types of waste to be received,” he informed.
He explained that, in some ways, Jamaica does monitor the activities of ships as it regards to their disposal of waste, through the MAJ’s Port Inspectors.
“They go onboard the ship, to ensure that the waste that should be on board is still on board and that which is to be discharged is discharged,” stated Mr. Smith.
The workshop was conducted by the IMO and the United Nations Regional Coordinating Unit for the Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP-CAR/RCU) and RAC/REMPEITC-Caribe. Jamaica’s delegation included representatives from Petrojam, Port Authority of Jamaica, Natural Resources Conservation Authority, Quarantine Division of the Ministry of Health and the MAJ.