Caribbean Races toward Regional Milestone to Combat Marine Pollution

Regional Pollution Control Agreement Imminent

The accelerated progress towards further regional action in the protection of our Sea is timely and necessary. Now that Guyana is likely to become the eighth country of the Wider Caribbean Region (WCR)i to accede to the Protocol concerning Pollution from land-based sources and activities, commonly known as the LBS Protocol, the United Nations Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) is confident that the ninth and final ratification needed for the LBS Protocol to enter into force is not far behind.
Caribbean Races toward Regional Milestone to Combat Marine Pollution

Chris Corbin making a presentation at the 2009 MARPOL Convention

Jul 20, 2010

Guyana’s Cabinet approved accession to the Cartagena Convention and all of its three Protocols on June 17th, 2010.  The accession becomes official when the Government submits its instruments of accession for official recording by the Depository for the Convention located in Cartagena, Columbia. Only a few weeks ago, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda became the seventh country to accede to the LBS Protocol. 

Images of Louisiana’s state bird, the brown pelican, being impacted by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, are among the many stark reminders of the fragile marine ecosystems within the WCR and the critical role they play in human survival and development. 

A staggering 80% of global marine pollution originates from land based sources and activities. This threat is of greater concern to the more than 41 million people of the WCR that live within 10 km of the coastline, and depend on the coastal resources of tourism and the fishing industries.

Guyana’s Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon, recently summarized the urgency felt by the Wider Caribbean, 10 weeks into one of the worst oil spills in history: 

“I am tempted to recognize that the words, ‘the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico’, today seem to be a euphemism for marine disaster and I don’t mind if one were to try to establish a nexus between the accession to the Convention and what is happening in the Gulf of Mexico,”    he stated.  “Prudence would probably suggest if we were not on board, maybe it is time to get on board”,     he added.

For many years, the CEP has been implementing special projects and programs to deal with the threats to the marine environment; including pollutants from untreated sewage, fertilizers, pesticides, metals or chemicals, and marine litter.  Utilizing funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and other donors, the CEP is conducting several ongoing activities which are making a difference in the region, including a Caribbean Regional fund for Wastewater Management (CReW), a plan for Reducing Pesticide Run-off to the Caribbean Sea in Colombia, Costa Rica and Nicaragua (REPCar), and a project for “Integrating Watershed & Coastal Area Management” (IWCAM),  currently underway in 13 participating countries of the Caribbean, to strengthening their commitment and capacity to plan and manage aquatic resources and ecosystems in a sustainable manner.

Describing the CEP’s commitment to responding to the concrete needs of the countries in the region, Mr. Chris Corbin, CEP’s Programme Officer for Pollution Prevention states, 

“The LBS protocol is very relevant to our region as it is an enabling mechanism for countries to engage in technical cooperation and the implementation and exchange of best practices to reduce and control the negative impacts on our Caribbean Sea.”