Significant Issues and Developments for 2010


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Cooperation on Underwater Cultural Heritage between Spain and U.S. NOAA (December 1, 2010)

On December 1, 2010, NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and Spain’s Ministry of Culture signed a Memorandum of Understanding [English] [Spanish] outlining a framework to jointly identify, protect, manage and preserve underwater cultural resources of mutual interest within their respective areas of responsibility. The arrangement calls for the exchange of information on actual or potential identification and location of underwater cultural resources, research and archeological examination of the resources, provision of information concerning potential or actual unauthorized disturbances of underwater cultural resources, cooperation with nongovernmental organizations engaged in historical or archeological programs compatible with the objectives of the arrangement, and preparation and dissemination of educational and outreach materials. For more information see the press release.

Wider Caribbean LBA Protocol Enters Into Force (October 14, 2010)

On October 14, 2010, the Protocol Concerning Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities (LBA Protocol) to the Cartagena Convention entered into force with its ratification by the Bahamas. The LBA Protocol is a wider Caribbean regional framework agreement negotiated under the auspices of the Regional Seas Program of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Land-based sources of marine pollution are estimated to account for 70 to 90 percent of the pollution entering the marine environment. Among the most critical land-based sources of marine pollution in the Caribbean are domestic wastewater and agricultural non-point source runoff. Such pollution contributes to the degradation of coral reefs and commercial fisheries, negatively affects regional economies, and endangers public health, recreation, and tourism throughout the region. The Protocol and its Annexes list priority source categories, activities, and associated contaminants that affect the Wider Caribbean Region, and set forth factors that Parties will be required to apply in determining prevention, reduction, and control strategies to manage land-based sources of pollution. In particular, the Parties are required to ensure that domestic wastewater discharges meet specific effluent limitations, and to develop plans for the prevention and reduction of agricultural non-point source pollution. The Protocol is expected to raise standards for treating domestic wastewater throughout the region to levels close to those already in place in the United States. In addition to the United States, eight countries are parties to the LBA Protocol: Trinidad and Tobago, Panama, Belize, Saint Lucia, France (due to its overseas Departments of Martinique and Guadeloupe), Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana, and the Bahamas.

Additional reference information: Some of these links are to external sites.

International Maritime Organization Approves Treaty Amendments to Further Reduce Vessel Discharges of Garbage into the Marine Environment (October 1, 2010).

On October 1, 2010, the Marine Environmental Protection Committee of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialized agency of the UN, approved treaty amendments supported that will further limit the discharge of garbage into the sea from ships. The result will translate into greater environmental protection and the global reduction of marine debris while still allowing ships to operate in a safe and efficient manner. The amendments to Annex V of the International Convention of the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (known as MARPOL) were the culmination of a multi-year review, the first since Annex V entered into force in 1998. The key change is that the amendments institute a reverse-list approach whereby no discharges of any garbage are permitted unless otherwise explicitly allowed. Additionally, the amendments allow for the accidental loss of fishing gear and fishing gear that is intentionally discharged for the safety of the vessel, crew or the marine environment but require fishermen to keep records of such losses and to make a report when a loss has a significant impact on the marine environment. If adopted by the Marine Environmental Protection Committee at its next session in July 2011, the treaty amendments will likely enter into force in July 2012.

Additional reference information: Some of these links are to external sites.

Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument Inscribed as World Heritage Site (July 30, 2010)

On July 30, 2010, at its annual meeting in Brazil, the World Heritage Committee added the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to the prestigious United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List. The remote chain of atolls and surrounding waters is the first U.S. site to be added to the World Heritage list in 15 years and is the nation’s first site designated for its outstanding value as both a natural and cultural heritage site. In June 2010, the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and the U.S. received evaluations from the UNESCO Advisory Bodies, recommending the Monument as a mixed cultural and natural heritage site for inscription on the World Heritage List. The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) evaluationwas of the cultural heritage component of the Monument while the International Union for Conservation (IUCN) evaluation was of the natural heritage component. To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one of ten selection criteria. The Advisory Bodies determined that the Monument satisfied two cultural heritage criteria (iii and vi) and three natural heritage criteria (viii, ix and x). In a press release, Dr. Lubchenco, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator, recognized that "[a]s the nation’s first primarily marine World Heritage Site, Papahānaumokuākea helps forward global recognition of the critical heritage values of the sea and global understanding of the importance of protecting our oceans."