S. has jurisdiction. The dumping specifically of biodegradable plastics into the sea in these navigable waters and in offshore areas less than 25 nautical miles from the nearest land is strictly forbidden. Metals, bottles, crockery and similar garbage cannot be disposed of into the sea within 12 nautical miles from the closest land (U.S. Congress).
Food waste, paper, rags, glass and similar wastes cannot be thrown into navigable waters or those offshore and within three nautical miles from the nearest land, except in the emergency cases of separate garbage of fixed or floating platforms within 500 meters of these units. In addition, all manned, commercial and oceangoing U.S. flag ships measuring 12.2 meters or more in length and subject to U.S. jurisdiction must keep record of garbage discharges (U.S. Congress).
The Secretary of State is empowered and required to administer and enforce the MARPOL Protocol and his authority includes issuing necessary regulations (U.S. Congress 1960). Violating the Protocol is unlawful and constitutes a class D felony (U.S. Congress) as well as incurs civil liabilities. Ships must be inspected and made to report.
Certain ships shall be required to maintain refuse record books, shipboard management plans and display placards to notify the crew and passengers of the Convention's requirements (U.S. Congress 1960). International agreements shall be sought to apply the equivalent requirements to all vessels within the contemplation of the Convention and those, which call at all U.S. ports. In implementing the Protocol, the Secretary may utilize the personnel, facilities or equipment of federal departments and agencies. Violations constituting class D felony are fined an amount not to exceed $25,000.00 for each violation and up to half the fine may be given to the informant of the felony. Violations of false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements or representations are fined for civil penalties of not more than $5,000 for each misrepresentation, with each day of continuing violation considered a separate crime. The Secretary or his designee shall determine the amount according to the nature, circumstances extent, and gravity of the crime and in consideration of the violator, the degree of culpability, history of prior offenses, ability to pay, and other relevant criteria (U.S. Congress).
The accidental wreck of a 20-tanker, 987-foot ship of Exxon Valdez in Bligh Reef led to the rupturing of eight of its 11 cargo tanks and the spilling of 10.8 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound in March 1989 (U.S. Congress 1960). Although no lives were lost, the accident was an immense disaster to fisheries, subsistence livelihoods, tourism and wildlife. Most important was the awareness that the sanctity of the Alaskan waters was most outrageously ravaged. In response, U.S. Congress passed the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which established measures in preparing for and preventing spills for the implementation and enforcement of the U.S. Coast Guard. It requires transporters of oil and production facilities to develop and implement response plans, participate in preparedness drills and maintain safe shipping and handling practices (Earle 1995). MARPOL began to control the operations and passage of new oil tankers, the carrying of noxious liquids in bulk, the control of sewage and other "grey water" and garbage, including plastics, metal, glass, galley wastes and other materials (Earle, U.S. Congress).
Statutes were also legislated towards the conservation of fish and wildlife, such as the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, which requires the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service to review actions that may affect bodies of water (U.S. Congress 1960). These actions include determining standards for water quality, studying methods for abating and preventing pollution and recovering useful products and gathering and disseminating investigation information (Earle 1995). The Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996, the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the creation of a National Marine Council were other consequent responses to the environment crisis. (U.S. Congress)
In December 2004, the White House issued its Congressionally-mandated response to the environmental crisis, the U.S. Ocean Action Plan (Scheer 2005). It pledged to work on 40 of the 212 commission recommendations from the Oceans Act by Congress. It mandated the President to set up a commission of experts to assess the threats to marine life and resources and come up with a new comprehensive ocean policy. Environmentalists, however, observed that this White House Ocean Action Plan had a number of weak spots. It encouraged commitment to the United Nations Law of the Sea Treaty, pledged to develop coral reef conservation strategies with the affected states, and federal market-based approaches to reduce strain on exploited fisheries. But each proposed action was questionable as to feasibility and motive. Many of these environmentalists viewed the Plan as placing the burden of cleaning up and oceans and reforming marine policy at the state and regional levels as passing the buck or responsibility (Scheer).
A lot has yet to be known about the ocean, its processes and interrelationship between land and sea (Earle 1995). Although much progress has already been made in the last generation to enhance marine environmental quality and ocean resources, there is still much work to be done. The ocean remains a great unknown. Yet, ocean pollution of the oceans has persisted and intervention efforts have so far been weak. The survival of life in the planet appears imperiled (Boukhari 1998).
1. Boukhari, Sophie. 20,000 Worlds Under the Sea: Ocean Pollution. UNESCO Courier: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 1998
2. Earle, Sylvia. Sea Change: a Message of the Oceans. Perspectives on Marine Environmental Quality Today, 1998-Year of the Ocean. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 1995. http://www.yoto98.noaa.gov/yoto/meeting/mar_env_316.html
3. Glausiusz, Josie. Dead Zones - Pollution Killing Off Ocean Life. Discover, 2000
4. Mulvaney, Kieran. A Sea of Troubles: in the International Year of the…