Marine Pollution


Land-Based Sources Seabed Activities Ocean Dumping From Vessels From or Through the Atmosphere


dead fish

Photo 23: A dead fish floats on the surface after an oil spill. (NOAA Photo Library.)

The global marine environment faces threats of pollution from a variety of land, sea and air-based sources. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOSC) addresses these threats primarily in Articles 207-212. Over the years since the LOSC was negotiated, several additional agreements have been developed to address specific types of pollution. In addition, with the growing recognition of the importance of the marine environment and the increasing threats to its health, many of these agreements have been strengthened to improve their effectiveness. These include the following agreements followed by their date of entry into force:

The United States is a party to each of these agreements except the 1996 Protocol to the London Dumping Convention, the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, and MARPOL Annex IV.

Additional reference information: 

Last updated February 2, 2018