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International and Regional Instruments on the Prevention and Elimination of Marine Pollution from Land-based Sources

September 2012

By far the greatest source of pollution to the ocean is the waste material introduced in to oceans from land. Even greater in volume than municipal wastes are industrial wastes. Industrial wastes are either introduced directly into the ocean through outfalls or indirectly through river systems that eventually run into ocean, or through the atmosphere, entering the ocean in rainfall. Liquid wastes from factories increasingly are becoming more chemically sophisticated as newer forms of synthetic products are invented. These chemicals wastes may interact synergistically in the ocean (just as smog is a synergistic interaction of chemicals in the atmosphere), sometimes creating unprecedented problems for human and animal health. A less intentional but nevertheless important source of pollution is agriculture runoff; the use of chemical pesticides and artificial fertilizers in farming results in river contamination and eventually oceanic contamination.
The first regional agreement on control of land-based pollution was the Paris Convention for the Prevention of the Marine Environment from Land-based Sources, which covered the North Sea and parts of the North-East Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, it was replaced with the 1992 OSPAR Convention and we can say it contains relatively advanced rules and mechanisms to all land-based marine pollution matters.
It must be admitted, however, that overall attempts to deal with land-based marine pollution at the international level have been made only in the form of less formal instruments. It is unavoidable to conclude that the regulation at the international level remains a fragile. A problem arising here is why the regulation of the land-based marine pollution remains inadequate at the international level.


Land-based sources of contamination according to available information are the source of approximately eighty per cent of all marine pollution. Attention is given to the extensive problem of untreated treated sewage and the of biggest contaminants—plastic litter, nutrients, heavy metals, sediments, oil, and radioactive wastes. There are several causes of ocean pollution including oil pollution, marine debris, toxic materials, and ocean dumping and mining. Oil pollution is not only caused by large devastating tanker spills, it is also caused through runoff from land and industrial wastes which find their way to the ocean through drains. Other causes include intensive farming, septic tank, pesticide, animal dung, household waste, water table, waste water, nuclear waste.


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