Shipping plan to ensure cleaner oceans in Pacific

MAJURO – A new plan endorsed last week will result in the reduction of waste materials being dumped from ships in Pacific waters.

And, less pollution and waste in our oceans is good news for the people and environment of the Pacific region.

The Regional Reception Facilities Plan, developed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is the first of its kind in the world.

The term “reception facilities” refers to special infrastructure that enables ships to safely offload waste (such as garbage, sewage and used oil) when they arrive in port. This means that ships are less likely to simply dump waste when they are at sea — or indeed, when they’re in port.

Many small island developing states lack these reception facilities. The significance of this Plan is that it recognises five Pacific shipping hubs — Apia, Suva, Port Moresby, Noumea and Papeete — as being regional centres for the safe offloading of waste from ships.

Aside from the obvious benefit of less waste in our oceans, the plan will mean that an increased number of countries are able to sign up to the International Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). Previously, the lack of reception facilities had prevented many countries from becoming a party to this important international agreement.

“This is the first time that an IMO Convention has recognised the unique challenges faced by Small Island Developing States. As a result of this new plan, SIDS in the Pacific region will be able to better enforce the MARPOL Convention and prevent ships from polluting in their national waters,” said Anthony Talouli, Pollution Adviser at SPREP.