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 6: The international control of ocean dumping: navigating from permissive to precautionary shores

David L. VanderZwaag


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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