15 February 2010

RP Urged to Ratify Protocol to Combat Ocean Pollution

Quezon City. A waste and pollution watchdog today urged the Government of the Philippines to ratify and enforce an international agreement that bans waste dumping and incineration at sea.

The EcoWaste Coalition issued the call as public and private stakeholders converge for a workshop about the "London Protocol" on February 15-18 in Pasay City under the auspices of the Philippine Coast Guard in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

“We urge the government to expeditiously ratify the 'London Protocol' and develop a national implementation plan that will protect the marine environment from deliberate waste disposal at sea,” said Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives.

The 1996 “London Protocol” to the 1972 “London Convention” (or the “Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter”) entered into force in 2006 and will in time replace the Convention the Philippines ratified way back in 1973. The “London Protocol”has been ratified by 37 countries.

Citing information from IMO, the "London Protocol" prohibits all dumping, “except for possibly acceptable wastes and substances on the so-called reverse list" and subject to the observance of certain guidelines.

The "London Protocol" further bans altogether the practice of incineration at sea, except for emergencies, as well as bans the export of wastes or other matter to non-Parties for the purpose of dumping or incineration at sea.

“We hope that RP’s ratification of the 'London Protocol' will also see the Philippines leading the fight to protect the oceans from dumping and other potentially toxic human activities such as ship sinking, breaking and recycling,” he stated.

“The ratification should likewise elicit open, informed and meaningful debates and consultations on any plans to manipulate or geo-engineer the oceans to 'fix' climate change,” he added.

The "London Protocol" integrates the precautionary and polluter pays principles that are essential in halting the oceans from turning into depositories for damaging materials and contaminants, the EcoWaste Coalition observed.

The precautionary principle is enshrined in Article 3 of the Protocol, which requires that "appropriate preventative measures are taken when there is reason to believe that wastes or other matter introduced into the marine environment are likely to cause harm even when there is no conclusive evidence to prove a causal relation between inputs and their effects."

The same article states that "the polluter should, in principle, bear the cost of pollution,” further stressing that contracting parties should ensure that the Protocol should not simply result in pollution being transferred from one part of the environment to another.

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For more information about the London Convention and Protocol, please log on to:
http://www.imo.org/home.asp?topic_id=1488

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