Research Handbooks in Environmental Law series
Edited by Rosemary Rayfuse
Chapter 5: Vessel-source pollution
The chapter on vessel-source pollution discusses jurisdictional norms as set out in the Law of the Sea Convention (LOSC) as well as technical standards set developed, in particular, by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The chapter demonstrates that the adoption and widespread acceptance of the LOSC has not ended the discussion on jurisdictional rights and obligations in relation to vessel-source pollution. Rather, the discussion has shifted towards interpretation of certain key concepts used in the LOSC and, perhaps more importantly, to issues that are not conclusively regulated in the convention. Such open questions include the extent of port states’ (territorial) jurisdiction over foreign ships and the relationship between the jurisdictional regime of the LOSC and the bases for extra-territorial jurisdiction under general international law. At a technical level, ship-source pollution is highly regulated. The chapter provides a brief overview of the rules in the field, with a particular focus on measures to reduce air emissions from ships, which have dominated the regulatory agenda in the past decade and certain issues that are deemed to be of particular legal interest in the years to come. A separate section is included for the implementation and enforcement of the rules. IMO has a privileged position in the regulation of vessel-source pollution, which is also acknowledged in the LOSC. The organization’s role in developing the jurisdictional balance between flag states, coastal states and port states is highlighted. Yet, despite the tradition of centralized and global law-making for shipping, other bodies, including regional ones, have been increasingly active in this field since the turn of the Millennium. The role of these bodies in regulating and controlling ship-source pollution is also briefly reviewed.
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