Promoted Conventions

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Cartagena Convention and Oil Spills Protocol

Link to Regional Framework

The International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation, 1990 (OPRC 90) 

The OPRC 1990 was adopted in London at the IMO headquarters on 30 November 1990. The aim of the OPRC 1990 is to provide a global framework for international cooperation and mutual assistance in combating major oil spill incidents (article 6) and to encourage States to develop and maintain adequate capability to deal with oil pollution emergencies. The OPRC Convention recognizes the importance of involving the oil and shipping industry in the implementation of the Convention and the “polluter Pays” principle.

 

Regional OPRC Plans

The Article 8 of the Oil Spill Protocol to the Cartagena Convention requires the development in the Wider Caribbean Region of a Regional OPRC Plan. RAC/REMPEITC-Caribe coordinated with the assistance of other Partners the creation of two Regional OPRC Plans. One encompasses the island States and Territories of the Caribbean (Caribbean Island OPRC Plan), while the other focuses on Central American countries (CAOP Regional Plan).

 

Civil Liability and Fund Conventions 

An oil spill can cause financial losses for a large number of organizations and individuals. In order to ensure that adequate compensation is available to persons affected by a spill of persistent oil from tankers, a 3-layer compensation system was developed under the auspices of the IMO. The primary layer is the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (Civil Liability Convention, CLC). First adopted in 1969, then amended in 1992, it is now commonly referred to as the CLC 92. This Convention introduces the concept of strict liability for tanker owners, which means that even in the absence of fault, the owner is accounted liable to pay for clean-up costs and pollution damage within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of an affected state. There are some exceptions (act of war, intent to cause damage by a third party, failure to maintain navigational aids) but the burden of proof lies with the owner in each case. Moreover, ships carrying more than 2,000 tonnes of oil are required to maintain insurance in respect of oil pollution damage and compensation limits set according to the tonnage of the tanker causing the pollution.

 

MARPOL

The MARPOL Convention is the main international convention covering prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes. It is a combination of two treaties adopted in 1973 and 1978 respectively and updated by amendments through the years.

The MARPOL Convention was adopted on 2 November 1973 at IMO. The Protocol of 1978 was adopted in response to a spate of tanker accidents in 1976-1977. As the 1973 MARPOL Convention had not yet entered into force, the 1978 MARPOL Protocol absorbed the parent Convention. The combined instrument entered into force on 2 October 1983. In 1997, a Protocol was adopted to amend the Convention and a new Annex VI was added which entered into force on 19 May 2005. MARPOL has been updated by amendments through the years.

 

Anti-fouling systems Convention

In order to keep ships’ hulls clear of marine growth to ensure maximum performance and to prevent the spread of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens, the industry uses anti-fouling systems to minimize the build-up of marine life on hulls surface. In the past, many of the coatings used in such systems were themselves harmful to the marine environment and more benign coatings needed to be developed to replace them.

Recognizing the importance of protection of the marine environment and human health from adverse effects of anti-fouling systems the IMO adopted the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships, which entered into force in September 2008. The Convention prohibits the use of harmful organotins in antifouling marine paints and establishes a mechanism to prevent the potential future use of other harmful substances in anti-fouling systems.

 

Ballast Water Management Convention 

Ships need to carry ballast to maintain their balance, stability and ensure structural integrity (basically, to operate securely and safely), especially while unladen or partially laden. As shipping efficiency improved and technology became available, solid ballast was gradually replaced by ballast water to ensure these functions. It is now estimated that about 3 to 5 billion tonnes of ballast water are transferred internationally every year. Although this change has been facilitating international trade, it has also assisted in ‘jumping’ natural barriers, helping aquatic species to be introduced, disperse and sometimes establish themselves in environments they were not supposed to reach. Indeed, at every moment, it is estimated that 7,000 different species are being transported in ships along with ballast water.

 

Recent activities

To promote its objectives, RAC/REMPEITC-Caribe conducts national and regional activities throughout the Wider Caribbean Region