By far the greatest sources of marine pollution are those that are land-based. For both pollution mitigation purposes and the conservation of marine biodiversity it is critical that international efforts to address land based sources of marine pollution are accelerated. In answer to this pressing need and as a result of Agenda 21, the Global Program of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities (GPA) was adopted by over 100 governments, including Australia, in Washington D.C. on 3 November 1995.
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The GPA is a non-legally binding instrument, aimed at preventing the degradation of the marine environment from land-based activities by facilitating the realisation of the duty of States to preserve and protect the marine environment. The sources of marine pollution it targets include sewage, persistent organic pollutants, radioactivity, metals, oils, nutrients, sediment mobilisation, litter and habitat destruction. It proposes action at primarily the national and regional levels with some coordination tasks at the global level. The GPA is designed to be a source of practical guidance to States in taking actions within their respective policies, priorities and resources.
Australia has been an active participant in meetings to discuss the development, implementation and review of the GPA. The GPA in Australia.
Marine Pollution from Shipping
Examples of Australian initiatives to address marine pollution from shipping include:
â€¢Introduced Marine Pests Program
â€¢Marine Waste Reception Facilities Program
Marine Pollution from Sea Dumping
Australia is a signatory to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter (London Convention 1972) and the 1996 Protocol thereto.
The Department of the Environment and Heritage prepares regular newsletters to provide industry generally with information about the London Convention and the Protocol, Australia’s participation at London Convention meetings, and details of opportunities for industry participation at such meetings.
â€¢London Convention Newsletter No 1, February 2002
â€¢London Convention Newsletter No 2, June 2002
â€¢London Convention Newsletter No 3, December 2002
Australia currently regulates the deliberate loading, dumping and incineration of waste at sea under the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981. The waters surrounding Australia’s coastline are increasingly threatened by pollution from wastes dumped at sea. To reduce this threat, there are Australian Government laws that control dumping at sea.
Permits from The Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts are required for all sea dumping operations.
The Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities
We are currently working with the UK-based Stakeholder Forum to review and update this site with exciting new additions. We ask that you return back often to learn more about how you and your community can protect the marine environment.
Welcome to the Official Website of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA-Marine). The GPA-Marine is the only global intergovernmental initiative directly addressing the link between watersheds, coastal waters and the open ocean.
The GPA-Marine enjoys almost universal support, with repeated calls by the General Assembly and other multilateral fora to accelerate its implementation. Increasingly the GPA-Marine is seen as a valuable tool to increase the resilience of coastal and marine environments to the pressures of climate change. The comprehensive, multi-sectoral and flexible approach of the GPA-Marine reflects the desire of Governments to strengthen collaboration and coordination at national, regional and global scales.
David Osborn, Coordinator, GPA-Marine
Waves of Change – Global Lessons to Inspire Local Action
UNEP and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are co-organizers of the Fifth International Marine Debris Conference which will take place March 20-25, 2011, in Honolulu, Hawai’i.
The conference, will bring together international marine debris researchers, natural resource managers, policy makers, industry representatives, and the nongovernmental community. This conference will highlight research advances, allow sharing of strategies and best practices to assess, reduce, and prevent the impacts of marine debris, and provide an opportunity for the development of specific bilateral or multi-country strategies.
For more information visit www.5imdc.org
“Sick water? The central role of wastewater management in sustainable development” not only identifies the threats to human and ecological health and the consequences of inaction, but also presents opportunities, where appropriate policy and management responses over the short and longer term can trigger employment, support livelihoods, boost public and ecosystem health and contribute to more intelligent water management.”
Did you know?
As much as 80% of the pollution load in coastal waters and the deep oceans originates from land-based activities. This includes run-off and wastewater from farms, cities and factories, as well as the atmospheric deposition of pollutants from power generation, heavy industry, automobiles, etc. The pollutants include heavy metals and Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), litter, radioactive waste, hydrocarbons and chemicals.
These contaminants, as well as changes to naturally occurirng loads of nutrients and sediments affect the most productive areas of the marine environment, including mangroves, salt marshes, seagrass meadows, coral reefs, estuaries and near-shore coastal waters. Of growing concern is the impact of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and the resultant acidification of the sea. Compounding these changes, the marine environment is increasingly threatened by physical alterations to the coastal zone, including the destruction of habitats vital to maintain ecosystem health and ecosystem services.
History in a Hurry:
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) obliges governments to take measures to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment from land-based sources (see particularly Articles 194 and 207). In 1995, as many as 108 governments and the European Commission declared their commitment to protect and preserve the marine environment from the adverse environmental impacts of land-based activities by adopting the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA) and the Washington Declaration. UNEP was tasked with the Secretariat function and established the GPA Coordination Office. The first Intergovernmental Review was held in Montreal in 2001 and adopted the Montreal Declaration . The second Intergovernmental Review was held in Beijing in 2006 and adopted the Beijing Declaration.
Introduced marine pests
Introduced marine pests are species moved to an area outside their natural range generally by human activities, and that threaten human health, economic values or the environment.
Marine pests are introduced to Australian waters and translocated inside our waters by a variety of vectors, including ballast water discharged by commercial shipping, bio-fouling on hulls and inside internal seawater pipes of commercial and recreational vessels, aquaculture operations (accidentally and intentionally), aquarium imports, as well as marine debris and ocean currents.
Better known introduced marine species include the Black Striped mussel, the Asian Green mussel and the Northern Pacific seastar. Read more from the CSIRO Centre for Research on Introduced Marine Pests .
The Australian Government response
An Intergovernmental Agreement on a National System for the Prevention and Management of Marine Pest Incursions was signed on 15 April 2005. The Australian Government and Victorian, Tasmanian, the Northern Territory and South Australian governments are signatories to this Agreement. New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland are yet to sign.
Parties to this Agreement agree that the intention of the National System is to provide effective and cost efficient procedures for the prevention, emergency response and ongoing management and control of marine pest incursions while providing a consistent and cost effective approach to border control, compliance and development of legislation.
The Agreement is intended to ensure that all sectors whose activities may lead to the introduction and translocation of marine pests will manage the associated marine pest risk and that measures implemented under the framework of the National System will be consistent with any current or future international agreements relating to introduced marine species.
â€¢Intergovernmental Agreement on a National System for the Prevention and Management of Marine Pest Incursions
Australian Government funding
Now in its second phase (2002-2003 to 2006-2007), the Natural Heritage Trust is funding a range of projects designed to improve Introduced Marine Pest (IMP) prevention, control and management as part of the implementation of the National System for Preventing and Managing Introduced Marine Pests.
Project funding is focusing on five key elements:
1.Development of frameworks for the establishment of Standards, Best Practice and Codes of Practice to minimise the risks of entry and spread of marine pests in Australia;
2.Improvement of the capacity of industries, individuals and agencies with a potential role in marine pests to participate;
3.Development of tools and the data and information infrastructure to support the National System;
4.Economic and Social assessment and analysis of the impact of potential marine pest incursions; and
5.Development and implementation of Control Plans for priority marine pests in Australia.
Some of the projects funded to date include:
â€¢Antifouling performance standards for the Maritime industry: Development of a framework for assessment, approval and relevance of effective products
Biofouling of vessels, marine equipment, and structures is recognised as an important vector for introduced marine pests. This report develops antifouling performance standards and proposes a four component framework for ensuring that vessels moving between coastal water zones have applied and maintained effective antifouling prevention systems on their underwater hulls.
â€¢Feasibility study for genetic control of Caulerpa in SA and NSW
Caulerpa taxifolia is an invasive marine alga that forms extensive meadows, dominating shallow coastal habitats, displacing native species and causing dramatic declines in local biodiversity. This project was a pilot study to assess the feasibility of using genetic techniques to develop and deliver a species-specific, small molecule toxin into invasive Caulerpa taxifolia colonies. The feasibly of this approach, as well as the time and resources required to make it operational in the field have been determined
â€¢Genetic Markers for Determining New Zealand Screwshell Distribution
The New Zealand Screwshell has adapted well to Australian coastal conditions. This species forms dense populations that have potential to out-compete native species, as well as alter sediment structure. The aim of this project was to develop genetic tools to identify NZ Screwshell larvae in plankton and benthic samples. This technology is helping to provide information about the life history of this species and how it might be transported around Australia’s coastline.
â€¢Empirical Validation – Stage I: Small Vessel Translocation of Key Threatening Species – Asterias amurensis
This project quantifies the coastal translocation of the Northern Pacific seastar, Asterias amurensis, by fishing and recreational vessels, as well as by aquaculture equipment from their main population centers in the southeast of Australia to other currently uninfected localities. This information is designed to assist in future control and management strategies for this pest species.
â€¢Empirical Validation – Stage II: Small Vessel Translocation of Key Threatening Species – Asterias amurensis and Undaria pinnatifida
As part of this project a gene probe for Undaria pinnatifida is being developed that can be applied to plankton and hull fouling samples to determine presence or absence. Although this stage of the project essentially focuses on Undaria pinnatifida, the work undertaken on Asterias amurensis in Stage I is being continued. This information will be used to quantify the translocation potential of various internal and external spaces and surfaces on fishing vessels, recreational vessels and aquaculture equipment. This information will then be used to inform an Infection Modes and Effects Analysis which can then be applied to the development of bio-invasion and risk assessment strategies.
Evaluation of National Control Plan Management Options for the Northern Pacific Seastar (PDF – 8.52 MB)
This project aims to develop a software model that can be used to determine optimal control and management strategies for this introduced species. The project is expected to deliver a report detailing estimated costs and benefits of management and control options for the NPS.
â€¢National Priority Pests – Part II: Ranking of Australian Marine Pests
The primary objective of this project was to provide a list of marine species in Australia, other than native species, whose members do or may threaten biodiversity within Australian waters. The project report also includes those species that are deemed likely to threaten biodiversity in the future. A priority list will then be generated of species that may become the subject of national control plans.
â€¢Research activities under the National System – Bureau of Rural Sciences
There are two activities within this project. The first consists of outlining issues about the use of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) gene probes in ballast water sampling and port monitoring, including problems caused by false positive and false negative results and the limits for detection. The second involves creating a software model that will enable the estimation of costs to the shipping industry of alternative sets of requirements for exchanging ships’ ballast water on routes between Australian ports.
â€¢Port Survey Data Integration into Australian Museums
Invertebrate samples gathered during port surveys will be assessed and distributed to State museums for integration into their established collection and will clearly identify that the specimens were collected during a port survey. This information will be uploaded onto OZCAM (Online Zoological Collections of Australian Museums) which is a dynamic database developed by Australian museums. Incorporation of the port survey samples into Australian museums will ensure that their long-term care is guaranteed and that they are accessible for ongoing taxonomic work via a single online biodiversity database for national faunal collections. The OZCAM database can be accessed at http://www.ozcam.gov.au
â€¢Development of gene probes for introduced marine pest species
The purpose of this project is to develop specific DNA primers and real-time polymerase chain reaction format (PCR format) gene probes for the species Musculista senhousia, Corbula gibba and Sabella spallanzanii that are capable of detecting larvae in ballast water.
â€¢Studies of the impact and dispersal of the introduced New Zealand Screwshell (Maoricolpus Roseus) to facilitate the development of a management strategy
Objectives of this project include identifying characteristics of preferred habitat of M. roseus in inshore environments of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel; characterising feeding strategies of M. roseus and relating feeding behaviours to habitat and movement; quantifying the impact of accumulations of live M. roseus and empty M. roseus shells occupied by hermit crabs (Paguristes tuberculatus) on the community structure of soft sediment environments; quantifying the effect of screwshell aggregations on the population dynamics of the commercial scallop; and determining the timing of reproduction patterns of larval development and identifying morphogenic cues that trigger settlement and metamorphosis.
â€¢Development of real-time polymerase chain reaction detection methods for toxic Alexandrium dinoflagellate species
This project will develop genetic methods for detecting the presence of toxic Alexandrium dinoflagellate species in ballast water and the marine environment. Toxic dinoflagellate species can cause severe human health problems through paralytic shellfish poisoning and lead to the closure of aquaculture enterprises and recreational harvesting of shellfish.
First phase of Natural Heritage Trust projects:
â€¢Controlling the Northern Pacific Seastar (Asterias amurensis) in Australia
â€¢Eradicating and preventing the spread of the invasive alga Caulerpa taxifolia in NSW
â€¢Minimising Impacts of the North Pacific Seastar in Australia
â€¢The Australian pilot project for the treatment of ships’ ballast water – 2004
Australia is one of 78 Contracting Parties to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, 1972 (the London Convention), and has been since 1985, when it formally acceded to that treaty.
Australia’s accession to the London Convention occurred after commencement of the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981 (the Sea Dumping Act), the Commonwealth legislative framework which, as originally enacted, implemented the London Convention.
The London Convention is aimed at promoting the effective control of pollution of the marine environment, by regulating the dumping of wastes and other matter1 that is liable to:
â€¢create hazards to human health;
â€¢harm living resources;
â€¢damage amenities; or
â€¢interfere with other legitimate uses of the sea.
It embodies a framework for regulating dumping into the sea from vessels, aircraft and platforms, based on a list of substances for which dumping is prohibited and list of substances requiring special care, and the incineration at sea based on incineration guidelines.
The London Convention does not apply, however, in relation to:
â€¢vessels and aircraft entitled to sovereign immunity under international law (for example, vessels and aircraft of the Australian Defence Force2 or of the defence force of a foreign state);
â€¢the disposal of wastes or other matter derived from, or incidental to, the normal operations of a vessel, aircraft or platform (for example, sewage and food wastes generated on a vessel at sea); or
â€¢the disposal of wastes or other matter directly arising from, or related to, the exploration, exploitation and associated offshore processing of seabed mineral resources (for example, wastes generated by the offshore oil and gas industry).
In 1993, Contracting Parties adopted amendments to the London Convention to phase out the dumping of industrial waste by 1 January 1996, prohibit incineration at sea of industrial waste and sewage sludge, and prohibit dumping of radioactive waste.
Each of these amendments were subsequently adopted by Australia, with the exception of the phasing out of the dumping of industrial waste, which Australia didn’t achieve until late 19973.
The Protocol to the London Convention
In 1996, Contracting Parties to the London Convention, including Australia, adopted the 1996 Protocol to the London Convention (the Protocol), which, when it enters into force, will supersede the London Convention.
Under the Protocol, Contracting Parties are obliged to take effective measures, according to their scientific, technical and economic capabilities, to reduce and where practicable eliminate pollution caused by dumping into the sea.
The Protocol embodies a more simplified, modern and comprehensive regulatory framework than the London Convention that is intended to provide greater protection to the marine environment.
Unlike the London Convention, the Protocol prohibits the dumping of all wastes or other matter into the sea, other than seven identified categories (Annex 1), subject to specific criteria being met (Annex 2). These wastes or other matter are:
â€¢fish waste, or material resulting from industrial fish processing operations;
â€¢vessels and platforms or other man-made structures at sea;
â€¢inert, inorganic geological material;
â€¢organic material of natural origin; and
â€¢bulky items primarily comprising iron, steel, concrete and similarly unharmful materials for which the concern is physical impact, and limited to those circumstances where such wastes are generated at locations, such as small islands with isolated communities, having no practicable access to disposal options other than dumping.
Under Annex 2, permit applicants are required to conduct a waste prevention audit; formulate alternative waste management strategies; screen all candidate wastes against a contaminant thresholds determined by each party (that is, an ‘action list’); assess the impact of dumping on the marine environment and monitor the results. Guidance is also given on dumpsite selection.
The Protocol also prohibits incineration at sea and the export of substances for dumping into the sea or incineration at sea, although it is important to note that there is an emergency situation exemption in respect of these dumping and incineration rules.
The sovereign immunity, normal operations and seabed mining exemptions provided by the London Convention, as outlined above, are also incorporated into the Protocol.
Australia signed the Protocol on 25 March 1998, thereby expressing its intention to be bound by that agreement, and on 19 July 2000, amendments to the Sea Dumping Act were passed4 by the Commonwealth Parliament to implement the Protocol.
On 4 December 2000, Australia formally ratified the Protocol by lodging an instrument of ratification with the Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization.
Under international law, Australia is still bound by the London Convention, until entry into force of the Protocol. Domestically, however, we now implement the Protocol, and, accordingly, dumping arrangements are subject to that framework, as applied under the Sea Dumping Act5.
Industry Participation – Australian Government and Industry Partnership
At the 23rd Scientific Group Meeting, which was hosted by Australia in Townsville in May 2000, and at the 24th Scientific Group Meeting held in London in May 2001, the Australian Delegation included representatives of Australian Ports (specifically, Ms Caryn Anderson, formerly of Townsville Port Authority, and Dr Rick Morton, of the Port of Brisbane Corporation).
This collaborative arrangement for Scientific Group Meetings was an initiative agreed between government and industry to better enable Australia to showcase its regulatory framework and environmental standards, and its wealth of technical expertise.
Given the success of these arrangements, and the benefits and opportunities it offers to both government and industry, EA is keen to continue industry representation on the Australian Delegation at future meetings of the Scientific Group.
In particular, EA is interested in sponsoring opportunities for Australian Industry representatives to showcase their expertise relevant to this forum, including significant marine monitoring and research programs that ports in this country have undertaken.
To this end, Australia is keen to present to the Jamaica Workshop, which will precede the 25th Scientific Group Meeting in May 2002, information on dredging and dumping, and marine environment monitoring, with a particular emphasis on information that may be of interest to the Caribbean region.
Equally, EA would like to be able to present one or more Australian case studies at the 25th Scientific Group Meeting on environmental monitoring in relation to dredging and dumping programs.
Through AAPMA, EA would like to hear from Australian industry representatives who may be interested in participating in the Jamaica Workshop.
Further details, including an agenda, in respect of both the Jamaica Workshop and the 25th Scientific Group Meeting can be obtained from Mr Edward Kleverlaan, Marine and International Section, Department of the Environment and Heritage (email: email@example.com, tel: (02) 6274 1750, fax: (02) 6274 1006.
Any other enquiries regards the London Convention or the Protocol can be directed to Edward Kleverlaan.
1 Wastes or other matter is defined broadly in both the London Convention and the Protocol, so as to effectively encompass all matter.
2 Note, whilst there is an exemption under the Sea Dumping Act in respect of vessels and aircraft of the Australian Defence Force, this exemption is narrower than is provided under the London Convention and the Protocol. Rather, the ADF exemption only applies in relation to a situation of armed conflict, or another emergency situation. In all other circumstances, the ADF is required to comply with the London Convention and the Protocol, as implemented by the Sea Dumping Act.
3 Australia continued to permit Pasminco to dump jarosite generated from its Tasmanian plant until October 1997.
4 Subsequently commencing to have effect on 16 August 2000
5 By complying with the Protocol, Australia meets its obligations under the London Convention.
London Convention Newsletter
Environment Australia, June 2002
Outcomes From the 25th Session of the Scientific Group to the London Convention and the LC/IMO/UNEP Workshop On Marine Pollution Prevention And Environmental Management In Ports In The Wider Caribbean Region
â€¢The 25th Session of the Scientific Group
â€¢Development of Waste Assessment Guidance
â€¢Monitoring of the Marine Environment
â€¢Long-term strategy for Technical Cooperation and Assistance
â€¢Future Work Program
â€¢Science Day on Design and Application of Bioassays
Environment Australia (EA) has prepared this newsletter to provide AAPMA members and industry generally with information about Australia’s participation at London Convention meetings. A short background to the London Convention and the 1996 Protocol can be found in the previous Newsletter – the first in this series.
The 25th Session of the Scientific Group
The 25th Session of the Scientific Group to the Consultative Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, 1972 (the London Convention), was held in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, from 27 to 31 May 2002.
The meeting was attended by delegations from 17 contracting Parties, one associate member of the International Maritime Organization, three non-contracting parties and several international NGOs including the International Association of Ports and Harbours, World Organisation of Dredging Associations, the Permanent International Association of Navigation Congress.
Major issues for Australia included:
â€¢Development of Waste Assessment Guidance (sampling guidelines and selection and analysis guidelines);
â€¢Monitoring of the marine environment;
â€¢Long term strategy for Technical Cooperation and Assistance;
â€¢Science day on Design and Application of Bioassays.
Australia undertook to provide information on the recently released National Ocean Disposal Guidelines for Dredged Material and on its use of bioassays to determine the suitability of dredged material for disposal at sea. Australia also contributed, through the working groups, to the development of the Guidance documents and presented its experiences on the phase out of dumping at sea of the industrial residue “Jarosite”.
The meeting was well run and provided an excellent forum to advance thinking on the characterisation of dredged material particularly those based on bioassays. Discussions also focused on Action Levels used around the globe and it was evident that this needs to be further developed by the group in the future if a harmonized approach is to be pursued.
The outcomes of the meeting are set out below.
Development of Waste Assessment Guidance
The Scientific Group approved the draft Waste Assessment Guidance on Sampling for dredged material that was prepared jointly by Canada and the United States with input from Australia. The Guidance document will be forwarded for adoption to the 24th session of the CM, which will be held in London, 11-15 November 2002.
The Scientific Group also considered the draft Generic Guidelines for the Selection of Physical, Chemical and Biological Parameters for the Assessment Dredged Material prepared by Intersessional Correspondence Group led by Germany. Australia provided input to several chapters in the document. Further development of the text will be undertaken by the Intersessional Correspondence Group and it is intended that a final draft be submitted for consideration at the 26TH session of the Scientific Group.
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Both guidance documents are intended for those with limited experience in sampling and analysis of dredged material. This is of critical importance for compliance activities with both the Convention and the 1996 Protocol, and in respect of technical co-operation issues under the Convention. Once adopted by the Consultative Meeting, the documents will be amalgamated and be made available on the London Convention Web-Site.
Monitoring of the Marine Environment
There was extensive discussion on the continued dumping of bauxite residue by Japan. The Scientific Group was not convinced by evidence presented, however, and concern was expressed regarding the origin, the fate and environmental impact of contaminants in the material. The Scientific Group subsequently requested Japan to further conduct a range of physical and biological impact assessments and to report these results to the next meeting of the SG. In agreeing to these requests, Japan confirmed its intention to reduce volumes and ultimately eliminate the need for ocean disposal.
Long-term strategy for Technical Cooperation and Assistance
The Scientific Group recognised that, despite continuing funding constraints, the Office of the London Convention had achieved a considerable amount in delivering technical cooperation and assistance in the past years, in particular, through four successful biannual regional workshops, several country specific projects and the development of training and guidance do
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