On October 27th and 28th several maritime personnel from across the Wider Caribbean region will be attending a workshop hosted by the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ), at the Knutsford Court Hotel on the ratification, implementation and enforcement of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO), International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex I (oil) and Annex (V) garbage.

The workshop came on the heels of a resolution at the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) 60thSession held March 22 and 26 this year in London, prohibiting the discharge from ships of all garbage generated onboard in the Wider Caribbean Region as of May 1, 2011.

Mr. Bertrand Smith, Director of Legal Affairs at the MAJ said “Since 1991 the IMO had designated the Caribbean region as a “Special Area” for ship generated garbage after assessing variables such as shipping traffic, interconnectedness of ecosystems and other vulnerabilities, however due to lack of adequate Waste Reception Facilities for ship-generated wastes, the status could not be brought into effect. However at the MEPC this year several Caribbean States that are party to the MARPOL Convention 73/78 indicated that sufficient Waste Reception Facilities were available at their ports. Therefore countries in the region are encouraged to notify the IMO of the availability of the facilities by populating the IMO’s Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS) database.”

Special Area status will see the prohibition of dumping of garbage by ships and should serve to enhance the quality of marine life in the region. However legislation will have to be passed to enforce the strict discharge standards.

The Objective of the workshop is to “facilitate the exchange of information among participants on the legislative, administrative, and operating procedures regarding MARPOL Annex I and V, specifically calling attention to the issue of Waste Reception Facilities in the Wider Caribbean Region, with a goal to comply with the requirements of the Special Area Provisions of MARPOL Annex V.”

The workshop is being conducted by the IMO and the United Nations Regional Coordinating Unit for the Caribbean Environment Program (UNEP-CAR/RCU) and RAC/REMPEITC-Caribe. Jamaica’s delegation will include representatives from Petrojam, Port Authority of Jamaica, National Resources Conservation Authority, Quarantine Division of the Ministry of Health and the MAJ.