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APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLES OF LONDON PROTOCOL TO CURB DUMPING IN THE INDIAN OCEAN

Paper Details Paper Code: RA-CLA-V2-11 Category: Research Article Date of Submission for First Review: March 28, 2022 Date of Acceptance: July 6, 2022 Citation: Shambhavi Sharma, “Application of the Principles of London Protocol to Curb Dumping in the Indian Ocean”, 2, AIJACLA, 134, 134-141 (2022). Author Details: Shambhavi Sharma, Student, Symbiosis Law School, Nagpur Abstract Dumping refers to the improper disposal of waste materials into open oceans. An absence of proper waste disposal systems, oil spills, and land run-offs are some of the most common reasons behind dumping. Dumping of waste products into oceans has adverse effects on the marine ecosystem and also on human health and livelihood. The Indian Ocean is on the verge of becoming one of the most polluted water bodies in the world. This article explores the causes and consequences of oceanic dumping with special reference to the Indian Ocean. The London Protocol is one of the first and most rigorous international frameworks to control oceanic dumping. This article aims to critically scrutinize the provisions of the London Protocol. The application of the provisions of London Protocol to curtail oceanic dumping has also been analysed in this article. Most of the Indian Ocean states have not ratified the London Protocol and hence are non-parties to the same. This article elucidates upon the benefits of becoming a member to the said protocol. Lastly, the article also examines the implications of the provisions of London Protocol upon these states once they do ratify the protocol. Keywords: Dumping, Indian Ocean, Marine Biodiversity, London Protocol




DUMPING ACTIVITIES IN THE INDIAN OCEAN AND THE USAGE OF LONDON PROTOCOL TO CURTAIL THE PROBLEM – AN INTRODUCTION In addition to supporting more than a million discovered and undiscovered wildlife and plant species, the oceans also provide a major source of livelihood to people residing around them. The oceans possess a deep reservoir of natural resources which are used for various purposes like energy generation, food etc. Oceanic flora and fauna often have therapeutic and medicinal value. Unfortunately, oceanic dumping is on a rise, posing a great threat to the marine wildlife and the people dependent upon the ocean for their livelihood. According to the International Maritime Organization, dumping of wastes in the sea contributes to an estimated 10% of the overall input of pollutants into the sea. Dredged material makes up about 80-90% of all licensed materials dumped. Approximately 10% of dredged material is contaminated by shipping, industrial and municipal discharges, or by land run-off. [1] Dumping of plastic waste is increasing in the Indian Ocean. In the year 2020, The Indian Ocean witnessed its biggest ecological disaster when the Japanese owned and Panama flagged ship named Wakashio was deliberately sunk into the ocean by Maltese flagged ships with the consent of the Mauritian Government after it was split into two parts. Prior to the sinking, Wakashio spilled up to 1,000 tons of oil having an adverse effect on the entire under water ecosystem surrounding it.[2] If oceanic dumping is not addressed with immediate effect, it would cause an immeasurable amount of damage to the entire marine ecosystem and to the people dependent upon it. An effective implementation of The London Protocol which was entered into force in the year 2006 would ensure that this problem is reduced to the point of non-existence. This protocol prohibits all dumping of wastes and other matter, except for those on a prescribed list that undergo a rigorous assessment and permitting process. In addition to that, the Protocol regulates disposal of wastes from land-based mining operations and the permissibility of marine geo-engineering, which it allows for research purposes only. The London Protocol also bans the exportation of waste to other countries for dumping, as well as the burning of waste at the sea. [3] In its preamble, the London Protocol recognizes that developing countries especially island nations lack facilities to treat and dispose of the waste produced by them. The convention thus supports such nations by allowing them to import technological know-how from more developed nations.

OCEANIC DUMPING AND MARINE POLLUTION – IN CONTEXT WITH THE INDIAN OCEAN Bound by India, Africa, Australia and the Southern Sea, the Indian Ocean is of great environmental, strategic and economic significance. Not much was known about dumping and marine pollution in the Indian Ocean until recently. In a study conducted, it was found that the Indian Ocean is the second most polluted ocean in the world. According to statistics, the Indian Ocean has about enough plastic to equate to 38,000 elephants. [4] Five garbage patches have been known to exist throughout the world. They occupy the three major oceans of the world. The fifth garbage patch which is around five million kilometres long was discovered in the year 2010.[5] This garbage patch is located below India and it occupies a major area of the Southern Indian Ocean. Due to its remoteness, the patch took a long time to be discovered. This garbage patch is very fluid in nature and tends to change direction with season. It is estimated that around 90% of the garbage in this garbage patch is plastic. [6] On breaking down, this plastic is ingested by aquatic animals which causes sickness in them and can even lead to their death. Chemical run-offs into Indian Ocean have caused nutrient imbalance in the sea giving rise to algal bloom near the coasts which is not only harmful to the marine wildlife but also to human beings. The ocean around the Bay of Bengal is renowned for its mangrove forests. Known as Sundarbans, these mangrove forests are the world’s largest contiguous mangrove patch covering an area of 10,000 kmand are the part of the progradation delta of Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna River systems that comprises of an area of 80,000 km.[7]Mangroves act as natural pollution sinks for the regions in which they exist. Mangroves are not only essential for maintaining the ecological balance in the region, but also important from an economic perspective. In the recent years, this region is shaping up as a tourist area. Unfortunately, recent assessments on extent of mangroves worldwide suggest that between 1990 and 2010 there is a reduction of 3% of mangroves cover throughout the world.[8] Oceanic dumping and marine pollution would adversely affect mangrove forests by polluting the very environment in which they thrive causing them to degrade further.

CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES OF OCEANIC DUMPING I. Causes behind Oceanic Dumping Oil Leaks and Spills: When oil is extracted from ocean beds, a considerable number of gases might release into the ocean damaging the aquatic flora and fauna immensely. Oil spills from vessels is another common occurrence which damages the marine ecosystem immeasurably. Absence of Strict Regulations: An absence of proper regulations or any regulations at all encourages industrialists to dump waste directly into the ocean due to its cost effectiveness. Ocean Mining: The waste generated during oceanic mining is simply dumped deep into the ocean. Most of these waste products are highly toxic in nature. Rivers and Lakes: Waste generated from factories is often dumped into rivers and lakes especially in developing countries. In addition to that, certain rivers are highly polluted by human activities. The rivers ultimately join the oceans dumping their waste into them and further polluting them. Absence of Control Mechanism: Certain countries lack requisite amount of manpower and infrastructural facilities to successfully control dumping in oceans. Cargoes: Often during storms, parts of freight that a cargo vessel is carrying falls into the ocean further adding up to the problem of dumping.

CONSEQUENCES OF OCEANIC DUMPING Dumping waste not only threatens the ocean we know, but also the 80% of the ocean that has yet to be explored.[9] Oceanic dumping not only affects the areas in which the waste was dumped but also distant areas as the toxins are often carried to them and affect them adversely. Dumping leads to habitat destruction and severely harms the aquatic biodiversity to the point of extinction. A sizeable reduction in the population of certain species often disrupts the food chain considerably. Oceanic dumping especially affects coral reefs. At least 25 percent of marine life on earth needs coral reefs during their life cycle.[10] Water pollution often leads to coral bleaching substantially reducing their numbers in the ocean. Dumping often causes a release of toxins in water which when consumed by fishes often poison them. Not only does this increase diseases and death fishes, but also affects human health in case they consume such fishes. A loss in number of fishes also impacts the people dependent upon fishes for a living. Oceanic dumping also often leads to dirty beaches which eventually cause a decrease in tourism. It adversely affects the economy of regions largely dependent upon tourism. Needless to say, people dependent upon tourism industry for livelihood are also affected.

LONDON PROTOCOL- FEATURES AND APPLICATIONS I. London Protocol- History and Features Commonly known as the London Convention, the "Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter 1972" was one of the first attempts on the international level to acknowledge and address the issue of oceanic dumping. Coming into force in the year 1975, this Convention contained within itself provisions to address and minimize oceanic dumping and marine pollution. In order to keep up with changing times, certain set of rules termed as London Protocol were agreed upon in the year 1996. Under the Protocol, all dumping is prohibited, except for possibly acceptable wastes on the so-called "reverse list". This list includes the following: 1 dredged material; 2 sewage sludge; 3 fish wastes; 4 vessels and platforms; 5 inert, inorganic geological material (e.g., mining wastes); 6 organic materials of natural origin; 7 bulky items primarily comprising iron, steel and concrete; and 8 carbon dioxide streams from carbon dioxide capture processes for sequestration. [11] This ensures that the materials which are dumped into the ocean are carefully examined and do not pose any risk to human health and environment. The London Protocol came into force in the year 2006 and is independent of the London Convention. II. Benefits of London Protocol London Protocol provides measures to prevent marine pollution from dumping activities and new marine activities like marine geo-engineering. It also provides countries with scientific tools to reduce marine pollution. A party of London Protocol is provided with the technical support required to control marine pollution. By becoming a party to the London Protocol, countries are facilitating the implementation of sustainable development goals. Regulation of dumping activities in high seas ensures that marine flora and fauna is protected. The waste materials permitted of being dumped are duly analyzed and tested before the actual dumping takes place. This protocol ensures that waste materials are reduced reused and recycled. In addition to that, dumping sites are also continually monitored. The member states not only enjoy environmental benefits, but also economic benefits. Clean coasts and beaches attract more tourists. This is especially important for island nations where tourism is the main source of income. In addition to that, London Protocol also ensures that trade relationships are built between countries which h have uniform levels of environment protection. III. Application of London Protocol to Reduce Oceanic Dumping Studies estimate that dumping of wastes at sea today contributes a potential 10% of the overall input of pollutants into the sea[12]. This makes the provisions of London Protocol all the more important. The London Protocol contains within itself certain guidelines for the disposal of wastes mentioned in the reverse list. These guidelines deal with everything from the evaluation of the waste and waste characterization to environmental effects of dumping and licensing procedures. Guidelines for sampling and analyzing of waste materials have also been developed. The London Protocol focuses on collaboration and compliance rather than imposing sanctions for non- compliance. As soon as a state becomes a member of the London Protocol, it is required to establish a Compliance Group to provide member states advice on compliance issues. In addition to that, states are obligated to report their dumping activities. Technical co-operation and assistance are carried forward whenever possible. Both the London Convention and Protocol provide the global rules and standards on dumping as called for in Article 210.6 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982). [13] In order to ensure that the provisions of the protocol are implemented across countries and sections, cross-sectoral activities are undertaken. The provisions of London Protocol are implemented in harmony with the provisions of other international and legal conventions focusing on waste disposal and marine pollution. Member countries of the London Protocol have adopted a framework termed as “Assessment Framework for Scientific Research Involving Ocean Fertilization” which guides the member countries regarding the assessments of proposals for ocean fertilization research.

CONCLUSION It must be understood that oceans not only have strategic and navigational importance, but they also have a huge ecological importance. It also must be understood that oceans play a huge part in the lives of people. Industries like fishing, tourism, deep sea mining etc. are heavily dependent upon oceans. Remote island countries are dependent on oceans for everything. A majority of our oceans have not even been properly explored yet. Opportunity for conducting scientific and environmental research in oceans are plenty. It also must be noted that discovering new animal and plant species in oceans is a very real possibility. An ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude led countries to dump waste into oceans in the first place. However, with growing research it is understood that oceanic dumping is harmful to both wildlife and humans and by no means is a replacement for a proper waste disposal mechanism. After the discovery of a garbage patch in the Indian Ocean and increased instances of oil spills and improper waste disposal in the region, it must be acknowledged that oceanic dumping is on a rise in Indian Ocean. The London Protocol ensures that waste products are not dumped into the oceans without a proper analysis. It also ensures that countries which lack technological know-how can import the same from more developed nations. Rather than focusing on imposing sanctions on countries that do not abide by the provisions of the protocol, this protocol facilitates the creation of a situation where sanctions would not be necessary in the first place. The protocol works in collaboration with other international and regional treaties. Countries surrounded by Indian Ocean must accede to the London Protocol as not only would that create a proper waste disposal mechanism wherever such mechanisms are absent but also facilitate the creation of a clean and stable marine environment. Implementation of the provisions of the London Protocol would also ensure that the vision behind UN sustainable development goal – 14 is fulfilled. Indian Ocean is on the verge of becoming one of the most polluted oceans of the world and dumping of waste materials is one of the main reasons behind the same. Accession of countries to London Protocol and proper implementation of its provisions would ensure that the pollution levels are stabilized and dumping is reduced.


[1] Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, International maritime organization, accessed 26th march 2022. [2] Leila Mead, ‘“The Ocean Is Not a Dumping Ground” Fifty Years of Regulating Ocean Dumping Brief 28’ (December 2021) <https://www.iisd.org/system/files/2021-11/still-one-earth-ocean-dumping.pdf>, accessed 26th March, 2022. [3] Leila Mead, ‘“The Ocean Is Not a Dumping Ground” Fifty Years of Regulating Ocean Dumping’ (December 2021) <https://www.iisd.org/system/files/2021-11/still-one-earth-ocean-dumping.pdf>, accessed 26th March, 2022. [4]edited by Deirdre S. Blanchfield,’"Ocean dumping." Environmental Encyclopedia’(2011) Gale, 2011. Gale In Context: Science, <link.gale.com/apps/doc/CV2644150976/SCIC?u=sain62671&sid=bookmark-SCIC&xid=0513103d>, Accessed 26 Mar. 2022. [5] Amy Simmons, ‘Scientists fear mass extinction as oceans choke’, ABC news (November 30th 2010). [6] Blanchfield, D.S. ed. (2011) 'Marine pollution' in Environmental Encyclopedia, Detroit, MI: Gale, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CV2644150832/SCIC?u=sain62671&sid=bookmark-SCIC&xid=29da8e9f, accessed 26 Mar 2022. [7] S. Maiti and A. Chowdhury, "Effects of Anthropogenic Pollution on Mangrove Biodiversity: A Review," Journal of Environmental Protection, (Vol. 4 No. 12, 2013, pp. 1428-1434) doi: 10.4236/jep.2013.412163 <Effects of Anthropogenic Pollution on Mangrove Biodiversity: A Review (scirp.org)> accessed 26th March 2022 [8] S. Maiti and A. Chowdhury, "Effects of Anthropogenic Pollution on Mangrove Biodiversity: A Review," Journal of Environmental Protection, (Vol. 4 No. 12, 2013, pp. 1428-1434) doi: 10.4236/jep.2013.412163 <Effects of Anthropogenic Pollution on Mangrove Biodiversity: A Review (scirp.org)> accessed 26th March 2022 [9] Leila Mead, ‘“The Ocean Is Not a Dumping Ground Brief 28” Fifty Years of Regulating Ocean Dumping’ (December 2021) < https://www.iisd.org/system/files/2021-11/still-one-earth-ocean-dumping.pdf >, accessed 26th March, 2022 [10] Paula Jerez Torres, ‘Coral Bleaching: Why Reefs Are Dying – and How to Help’(utopia, February 20th 2022) < Coral Bleaching: Why Reefs Are Dying – and How to Help - Utopia>, accessed 26th March 2022 [11] ‘Ocean Dumping Management’, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website, accessed 26th march 2022. [12] Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, International Maritime Organization, accessed 26th march 2022. [13] International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), International Maritime Organization, accessed 26th march 2022.

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