Secondary School Kit on the United Nations: A Web Adaptation

Unit 15: Cleaner Oceans
International Maritime Organization (IMO)

The section of the MARPOL Convention (see Table 1) dealing with garbage from ships (Annex V) did not come into force until December 1988, but it represented a big step forward in the battle against pollution of the seas. Rubbish from ships is not only unsightly and unhygienic for holidaymakers when it is washed ashore on tourist beaches, it is also a threat to fish, birds and other marine life.

The substance with potential for the greatest harm is plastic. It is used for a wide range of products and is virtually indestructible. Once it is in the sea it can remain for decades. Annex V imposes strict controls over the disposal into the sea of rubbish generated on board ships. The controls are stricter the closer a ship is to land. In "Special Areas" the controls against dumping are very stringent. Such areas are usually enclosed by land and especially vulnerable to pollution. Examples include the Mediterranean, the Baltic, the Red and Black Sea and the Gulf area. Countries which have signed up to Annex V also have to provide facilities at ports for the reception of rubbish from ships. By March 1995, 74 countries had accepted Annex V. Photo
  1. "Special Areas" are particularly vulnerable to pollution. Give four examples of "Special Areas" including two that are not listed on this sheet. You will need to use an atlas. Why are enclosed seas more vulnerable to pollution?
  2. Why is plastic so dangerous?
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