Caribbean Leaders Tackle Serious Problem of Marine Pollution

The issue of land based pollution is something that is not going to go away any time soon. So much of our solid waste, sewage and polluted water ends up in our rivers, gullies, and eventually in the sea. And there is another problem: that of the chemicals, especially fertilizers (nutrients) used in agriculture, that also find their way into our water systems. Several recommendations came out of a special meeting on this topic in May of this year. For more details, you may contact the United Nations Environment Programme.

Land based pollution from untreated sewage, garbage and chemicals from agriculture account for 80- 85% of marine pollution in the Caribbean Sea and pose a serious threat to Caribbean livelihoods, health and environmental sustainability. To tackle this serious problem, twenty-two (22) Caribbean experts met to identify strategies and launch the Caribbean Platform for Nutrient Management at the meeting for the Global Partnership on Nutrient Management. The meeting, held from May 7 to 9, 2013 in Trinidad and Tobago was organized by the United Nations Environment Programme’s Caribbean Regional Coordinating Unit (UNEP CAR/RCU), in association with UNEP’s Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA), the Global Environment Facility funded Caribbean Regional Fund for Wastewater Management Project (GEF CReW) and the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA). The meeting focused specifically on excess nutrient run-off and provided several recommendations to set the agenda for a Caribbean Platform for Nutrient Management and to promote actions for sustainable nutrient management across the region.

Mr. Nelson Andrade Colmenares, Regional Coordinator for the UNEP CAR/RCU indicated that this meeting was timely as nutrients from land based sources are a major source of pollution in the Wider Caribbean Region and it was time that stakeholders took action to reduce negative environmental impacts.

Mr. Anjan Datta, the Senior Programme Officer of UNEP’s Global Programme of Action (GPA), reported that “food security of two-thirds of the world’s population depends on the availability and use of nutrients in the form of fertilizers”. These nutrients, which eventually end up in the seas, can cause eutrophication leading to adverse impacts including the collapse of fisheries and shellfish poisoning.

Marine pollution from nutrient run-off brings negative consequences for people of the Wider Caribbean Region who depend heavily on the resources of the Caribbean Sea for their livelihoods, recreation, food and economic development.

The Global Partnership on Nutrient Management was developed under the leadership of UNEP Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA) to enhance the capacity of stakeholders to design and implement effective nutrient management policies. It is a part of the Protocol Concerning Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities (LBS Protocol) that several countries in the region have signed. Controlling nutrient run-off is in fact essential to the successful implementation of the LBS Protocol which is the main framework through which the GPA operates within the region. Since 1995, UNEP CAR/RCU has been collaborating with the UNEP GPA to implement and develop National Programmes of Action for the protection of the marine environment from land-based activities, in several countries of the Wider Caribbean. UNEP CAR/RCU remains committed to the management of nutrients, so that the people of the Wider Caribbean Region can enjoy the sea for generations.

For further information please contact, Miss Pietra Brown ,United Nations Volunteer-Communications Officer , at UNEP CEP by telephone: 1(876)922-9267-9,Fax:1(876)922-9292,

Email: pb@cep.unep.org. Also, feel free to visit the website at : http://www.cep.unep.org


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About UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP)

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) established the Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) in 1976 under the framework of its Regional Seas Programme. It was developed taking into consideration the importance and value of the Wider Caribbean Region’s fragile and vulnerable coastal and marine ecosystems, including an abundant and mainly endemic flora and fauna.

A Caribbean Action Plan was adopted by the Countries of the Wider Caribbean Region (WCR) and that led to the development and adoption of the Cartagena Convention on 24 March 1983. This Convention is the first regionally binding treaty of its kind that seeks to protect and develop the marine environment of the WCR. Since its entry into force on 11 October 1986, 25 of the 30 WCR countries have become contracting parties.
The Convention is supported by three protocols:

  • Protocol concerning Cooperation in combating Oil Spills, which entered into force on October 11, 1986;

  • Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW), which entered into force on June 18, 2000;

  • Protocol concerning Pollution from Land-based sources and activities (LBS), which entered into force on August 13, 2010.

In addition, each Protocol is served by a Regional Activity Centre. These centres are based in Curacao (Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Information and Training Center for the Wider Caribbean, RAC/REMPEITC) for the Oil Spills Protocol; in Guadeloupe (RAC/SPAW) for the SPAW Protocol and in Cuba (Centre of Engineering and Environmental Management of Coasts and Bays) and Trinidad & Tobago (Institute of Marine Affairs), both for the LBS Protocol. . As they endeavour to protect the Caribbean Sea and sustain our future, we look forward to their continued effort to combat marine pollution by facilitating the implementation of the Cartagena Convention and its Protocols in the Wider Caribbean Region.

The Regional Coordinating Unit (UNEP-CAR/RCU), established in 1986, serves as the Secretariat to the Cartagena Convention and is based in Kingston, Jamaica

To find out more about the UNEP CAR-RCU and the LBS Protocol, please visit the www.cep.unep.org

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14 thoughts on “Caribbean Leaders Tackle Serious Problem of Marine Pollution

    1. Thanks so much. Yes, creating awareness among young people is so essential. Jamaica Environment Trust has an excellent Schools Environment Programme, which has been scaled down considerably in the past few years due to lack of support. But other organizations, including community groups and the National Environment & Planning Agency, do quite a bit of education in schools. Could be a lot more, though.

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    1. Hi, Adrian. Thanks so much for visiting! The link to the petition is here:https://www.change.org/petitions/no-to-port-on-goat-island-jamaica-no-trans-shipping-port-portland-bight-protected-area-jamaica?share_id=EWQGYRZHjc&utm_campaign=mailto_link&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition Also, do check out the Facebook page “No! To port on Goat Islands.” Also I am not sure if you are in Jamaica, but we are planning a flotilla of 20 boats, contracting fisherfolk, to visit Goat Islands. Depart Old Harbour Bay on Saturday September 14 at 7:00 a.m. Small contribution needed. If interested please respond here and I will send further details or send a message to my inbox. Response needed by WEDNESDAY! Please share with any of your friends/contacts who might be interested. Thank you!

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      1. That’s great! Then do get in touch and have a chat with them. By the way coastal clean up day is coming up on September 21st in Kingston and all over the island… They can give you info on that too. Thanks for your enthusiasm!

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  1. I’m just finishing a book called ‘Sea Sick’ by Alanna Mitchell – its about the global ocean crisis. its very sad what we are allowing to happen to our most important resource. They talk about the fact that 80% of Caribbean coral reef has been lost probably for good. We know so little about all this – thank you for your blog!

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    1. I don’t know that book – I must look it up. Yes, it is true about our coral reef, although I understand in some places it is trying to make a comeback. The UN Environment Programme is very focused on marine resources and there are many reasons for the destruction of the reef, including it seems climate change/global warming, as well as pollution, agricultural runoff etc. I am glad you found this article useful and hope you read my subsequent one about the Portland Bight Protected Area. The two are connected, in a way. I am trying to spread awareness and if you are able I would much appreciate your signing our petition. Again, this proposed development (for the second time by the same Chinese company that already destroyed part of a RAMSAR wetland site) would be disastrous for our sea and surrounding coastal areas – including fish sanctuaries, etc…

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