Governments have been urged to ratify the London Protocol treaty which regulates the dumping of wastes at sea in order to ensure the universal application of its precautionary approach towards protection of the marine environment.
The London Protocol, which currently has 47 Contracting States and has been in force since 2006, prohibits all dumping of wastes and other matters at sea, except for those on an approved list, which may be assessed and considered for dumping, such as dredged material, fish wastes and inert, inorganic material such as rocks and gravel from excavations.
Since its adoption and entry into force, Parties to the London Protocol have adopted amendments to extend permitted wastes to cover activities related to climate change mitigation.
These include the issuing of permits for carbon dioxide sequestration in stable geological formations in the seabed to ensure permanent isolation of carbon dioxide and strong controls to regulate marine geoengineering activities - which can involve the introduction of substances or organisms into the sea in order to stimulate carbon dioxide uptake and reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In line with the precautionary approach, marine geoengineering activities such as ocean fertilization, are limited at present to research activities only.
Referring to the 20th anniversary since the adoption of the London Protocol, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said the ”mandatory waste assessments” and ”precautionary approach” principles adopted into the treaty had now been fully embraced but there was still work to be done, which would support the global aspirations set in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals.
“I will continue to urge all IMO member governments to ratify the Protocol. This will extend and complete the task that the Parties set out to achieve and to enhance the protection of the marine environment for current and future generations. We need to work together to make sure that the London Protocol achieves a truly universal membership and becomes the preeminent regulatory regime, not just in spirit but also in terms of actual number of Contracting Parties,” Mr. Lim said.
IMO, which acts as the Secretariat for the treaty, has produced a brochure - The London Protocol: what it is and why it is needed - which outlines the activities regulated under the treaty and the benefits of ratification.
The London Protocol updates the earlier “Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter 1972", known as the "London Convention". That treaty banned the dumping of wastes specified in an annex. The 1996 London Protocol modernized the Convention, and is intended to eventually replace it.
Contracting States to the London Convention and Protocol are currently meeting in London (19-23 September) for the thirty-eighth Consultative Meeting of Contracting Parties to the London Convention and the 11th Meeting of Contracting Parties to the London Protocol.
During the 20th anniversary celebrations, at IMO Headquarters on 19 September, delegates were invited to view the winning entries in the Mexico national children's painting competition, under the theme "The child and the sea".