Although Congress previously called for federal interagency coordination to address the marine debris problem, leadership and governance remain inefficient and current mitigation efforts are episodic and crisis driven, the committee found. A national framework to identify priorities for dealing with marine debris and its removal efforts should be established. Additionally, Congress should designate a lead agency to expand programs to comprehensively address the problem, including land-based marine litter, derelict fishing gear, shipborne waste, and abandoned vessels.
Under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex V, which entered into force in 1988, many discharges from ships are permissible at sea. The committee said this approach does not encourage innovation or measures to minimize waste. It suggested that MARPOL Annex V be amended to include a prohibition on discharge of garbage at sea, allowing for limited exceptions based on specific vessel-operation scenarios. In order to discourage waste disposal at sea, ships also need to have access to adequate shoreside waste reception facilities for garbage and should be provided incentives, such as low disposal fees to use them, the report adds.
Nevertheless, some ships have already adopted zero or minimal discharge practices. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should disseminate best management practices for how vessels can attain zero discharge, source reduction, and waste minimization, the committee urged. EPA should also take the lead to work with academia, industry, and nongovernmental organizations to develop industry standards and guidelines for source reduction, reuse, and re
|Contact: Jennifer Walsh|
National Academy of Sciences