Research Handbook on International Marine Environmental Law
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Research Handbook on International Marine Environmental Law

Edited by Rosemary Rayfuse

This authoritative Handbook examines the current state and the future needs of international law in addressing the key activities that pose threats to the marine environment. Its chapters explore the legal framework for protection of the marine environment, pollution of the marine environment, seabed activities and the marine environment, protection of marine biodiversity, regional approaches to the protection of the marine environment and climate change and the marine environment. Each chapter goes beyond a survey of existing law to identify the shortcomings in the legal regime and areas of critical research needed to address these shortcomings. This book provides significant insights into contemporary issues surrounding the efficacy of the regime created by the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention and details the further work needed to ensure the design and implementation of effective regulation and management of human activities that affect the marine environment.
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Chapter 4: Land-based pollution and the marine environment

David Osborn


Pollution from land based sources remains one of the most pressing threats to the health, resilience and services of the marine environment. The solutions are complex, demanding multilateral, collaborative and proactive policy responses, ranging from education and awareness campaigns, to financial and economic incentives, to legislative and regulatory regimes underscored by resolute punitive measures for environmental negligence and industrial laggards. Contemporary multilateral mechanisms for protecting the marine environment from land-based sources of pollution – whether hard or soft law – inevitably reflect the rights and principles found in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOSC). Part XII speaks of obligations, implying that states must deliberately and actively address various threats to the marine environment. Specifically, Article 207 requires states to adopt laws and regulations to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment from land-based sources. The chapter explores global and regional cooperation to address land-based sources of marine pollution, international environmental law of an indirect nature, and the growing labyrinth of soft law. The flexible nature of the 1995 Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities is reviewed, highlighting the need for adaptive national approaches that avoid regulatory paradoxes. Enforcement and compliance of domestic legislation, as well as the role of information is addressed, stressing the importance of sustained research and monitoring of the marine environment. The chapter questions whether the current fragmented system of international environmental law and governance is capable of solving the problem. It concludes that a rejuvenated effort by a complex and diverse network of landholders, government, industry, community groups and research organizations is urgently needed to give full effect to international marine environmental law and the obligation, enshrined in the LOSC, to protect the marine environment from land-based sources of pollution.

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