Marine Pollution Prevention – High Priority for Caribbean States [1]

Press Release - Barbados

On November 14th, a Seminar on the Ratification and Implementation of Annex V of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL 73/78) was held aboard the MV FREEWINDS in the Bridgetown Harbour. The seminar was organized by the Regional Activity Center / Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Information and Training Center for the Wider Caribbean Region (RAC/REMPEITC-Caribe), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) through its Caribbean Environment Program (CEP), and the M/V FREEWINDS. It was co-hosted by the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport.

The seminar was attended by 115 participants, which included policy makers, environmental officials, maritime administrators, waste management authorities, and students from the University of West Indies, Queen’s College, the Christchurch Foundation, Harrison College, the Lodge School St. John, the Combermere School, and the Alleyne School.

In her address, Ms. Jacqueline Blackman, Deputy Chief Technical Officer for the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport confirmed the commitment of the government of Barbados to protect the coastal and marine environment from land and marine based sources of pollution. Ms. Blackman stated that “this Annex and its Resolution is clearly of great significance to Barbados and the region given the high level of cruise ship and pleasure craft activity.”

During the seminar, it was agreed that the government of Barbados has complied with many provisions of MARPOL Annex V. Several governmental agencies expressed their intention to work towards having the Wider Caribbean Region declared a “Special Area” in respect of pollution by garbage from ships. They plan to hold in December the first of many multi-agency meetings to adopt a more coordinated approach to implementing national obligations in respect of relevant multilateral environmental agreements and to address outstanding maritime issues.

“Special Areas” are particular bodies of water which, because of their oceanographic characteristics and ecological significance, require protective measures more strict than those applicable in other ocean areas. Within “Special Areas” that are in effect internationally, the only authorized garbage discharge from vessels is food waste, except under emergency circumstances.

Additional pollution prevention seminars have been planned during the port visits of the M/V FREEWINDS to the following islands: Dominica on November 16; Saint Kitts on November 19; and Antigua on November 21.