Research Handbooks in Environmental Law series
Edited by Rosemary Rayfuse
Chapter 6: The international control of ocean dumping: navigating from permissive to precautionary shores
This chapter provides, through a five-part ‘cruise’, an overview of the overall shift from a permissive to a precautionary approach to the international control of ocean dumping. Part 2 briefly describes the traditional assimilative capacity approach of the London Convention with the assumption that the oceans could absorb considerable types and amounts of wastes with very limited exceptions. Part 3 summarizes the major shifts towards a precautionary approach introduced by the 1996 London Protocol. Part 4 highlights the ‘sea of challenges’ still being faced in ocean dumping control practice. Various interpretive uncertainties continue to abound, such as what are wastes from normal operations of ships that are excluded from permitting requirements and what precisely are prohibited industrial wastes? Other implementation challenges include: addressing ocean fertilization and geo-engineering activities; strengthening compliance with reporting and monitoring obligations; securing adequate technical and capacity development assistance; dealing with ocean disposals in internal waters; addressing liability and compensation issues; and achieving wide acceptance of the London Convention and Protocol. Part 5 concludes with an overall assessment of international efforts to control ocean dumping to date and suggests future governance directions, in particular the need for a comprehensive and visionary strategic action plan.
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