Researching International Marine Environmental Law
by Arundhati Ashok Satkalmi
Arundhati Ashok Satkalmi is the Reference and Documents Research Librarian at the Rittenberg Law Library of St. John’s University School of Law. Prior to joining St. John’s in 1991, Aru worked as the Senior Information Specialist in the corporate headquarters of the Exxon Corporation in New York. In addition to the Masters in Library Science from St. John’s University, she holds Masters in Government and Politics where she specialized in International Law. She wrote a thesis titled International Convention for the Control and Management of Ship’s Ballast Water and Sediments of 2004: An Analysis of Logical and Practical Aspects. She also holds a Master of Science degree in Geology from Poona University. She has presented the topic of International Marine Environmental law to the Indian Society of International Law and American Association of Law Librarians.
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Table of Contents
There was a time, when nations felt fortunate if their national boundaries were marked by bodies of water. This sense seemed to be proportionate to the expanse, depth, and length of the body of water marking the national territory. Knowing that water is not the natural habitat of humans, the nations, particularly with marine boundaries, felt a sense of security because traversing the expanse of oceans would have been a daunting task. However, with the progress of civilization, floating vessels appeared on the watery expanses and advances in marine navigation and engineering transformed the vessels from wind dependent sailboats to steam propelled ships. This, in turn, changed the role of oceans from the daunting barriers to the routes of marine trade. Today, in the age of globalization, not only the exotic items but also the items of daily necessities such as clothing, food products, and oil (the life blood of modern society) are transported over oceanic routes and claim more than an 80% share of international traffic. Today, although the nations with expansive marine coast and harbors can be considered fortunate in that they have easy access to global trade, they have also become the recipients of marine pollution caused by marine traffic. Naturally, there is a call for increase in regulation of growing international marine traffic and pollution.
For decades, such calls are handled by the International Maritime Organization (IMO, or the Organization). The organization came into existence on March 17, 1958 when the IMO Convention took effect. Until 1982, the IMO was known as International Maritime Consultative Organization or IMCO. It has functioned as an arm of the United Nations and is responsible regulating international maritime affairs. In keeping with the changing times its mission has evolved from regulation of international shipping to the current mission expressed as “safe, secure and efficient shipping on clean oceans.” In less than 50 years it has developed close to 40 conventions. Five of these conventions deal exclusively with marine environment and are in force while two more environmental conventions have been adopted and will soon take effect. Along with the IMO, which has played a prominent role at the global level in developing international legal instruments, several regional organizations are also addressing the issue and are developing legal instruments to do so. Many of these organizations, including the IMO, have developed informative websites. Exhaustive treatment of these resources will fill up volumes and take considerable time and money. So, for the time being, this article will focus on and discuss the information that they have made available at no charge, and their efforts that are resulting in new international marine environmental law. In addition, this article will also discuss valuable information resources that are developed by several non-governmental entities and made available at no cost. Though the article focuses on non-commercial sources, Lexis and Westlaw are included when appropriate.
This website of the arm of the United Nations that is responsible for developing international legal instruments dealing with maritime regulations guides a user from the workings of the organization itself to the status of developed and developing treaties.
Various IMO affiliates assist the Organization in its mission of maintaining safe and clean oceans. Their websites - as described below – complement the IMO’s website
- GESAMP – Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection. Deals with all scientific aspects on the prevention, reduction and control of the degradation of the marine environment
- GLOBALLAST – Global Ballast Water Management Programme. Addresses the issue of invasive aquatic species
- Global Marine Litter Information Gateway – Focuses on the global, regional and local problem of marine litter.
- London Convention 1972 – Convention on the Prevention of Maritime Pollution by Dumping Waste and Other Matters.
- Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Center – Assists Mediterranean coastal States in the implementation of the Protocol concerning Co-operation in Combating Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by Oil and Other Harmful Substances in Cases of Emergency.
- PEMSEA - Regional Programme for Marine Pollution Prevention and Management in the East Asian Seas region. Established to work on trans-boundary environmental challenges in the region.
- Marine Electronic Highway – integrates maritime safety technologies and environmental management systems. Works to enhance the safety of shipping along the Straits of Malacca in South-East Asia.
- Marine Environment Protection Committee plays a vital role in developing the instruments to protect the marine environment. Documents issued in connection with the session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee are available online.
Unlike the UN treaty database, the United Nations Environmental Programme – along with the Environmental Law Instruments index as well as Environmental Statistics - and the Links here provide invaluable supplementary and complementary information about the legal instruments which specifically deal with the marine environment.
The following pages inform us about national and regional laws and policies which may have bearing on the international instrument(s). Examples are:
New Zealand: Maritime Safety Authority of New Zealand
United States: Environment Protection Agency’s Implementation of Marine Pollution Treaties and International Agreements, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Oceanographic Data Center, and U. S. shipping statistics and trends from the U. S. Maritime Administration are a few such sites.
Through their specialized program activities, research, along with their publications names and publications of distinguished authors and scholars give important clues. Some such institutions are:
- Centre de Droit Maritime et Océanique (original French)
- Tufts University – Fletcher School - Edwin Ginn Library – Marine and Coastal Treaties
- George Washington University - An Annotated Guide to Selected International/Foreign Law Resources
- International Maritime Law Institute
- Sea Grant College Network
- Tulane Maritime Law Center
- University of Richmond School of Law William Taylor Muse Law Library - Admiralty/Maritime Law Resources
- University of Southampton – Institute of Maritime Law
- University of Oregon – School of Law
- World Maritime University
- Ballast Exchange Newsletter
- Coastal Management: An International Journal of Marine Environment, Resources, Law And Society; ISSN 0892-0753
- G E S A M P Reports and Studies: (Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection); ISSN 1020-4873
- Globallast Newsletter
- The International Lawyer; ISSN 0020-7810; (Lexis, Westlaw)
- Journal of Marine Science and the Environment; ISSN 1741-1165
- Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce; ISSN 0022-2410; (Lexis, Westlaw)
- Lloyd’s List International; OCLC: 25751722; (Lexis, Westlaw)
- Loyola Maritime Law Journal; ISSN: 1545-2506 (Lexis, Westlaw)
- Marine Environmental Research; ISSN 0141-1136
- Marine Pollution Bulletin: The International Journal for Marine Environmentalists, Scientists, Engineers, Administrators, Politicians and Lawyers; ISSN0025-326X
- Ocean and Coastal Law Journal; ISSN 1073-8843
- Ocean Development and International Law Journal; ISSN: 0883-4873
- Tourism in Marine Environments; ISSN 1544-273X
- The Tulane Maritime Law Journal; ISSN: 1048-3748; (Lexis, Westlaw)
- University of San Francisco Maritime Law Journal; ISSN: 1061-3331; (Westlaw)
- The WMU Journal of Maritime Affairs; ISSN: 1651-436X
· Ballast water: Ecological and Fisheries Implications; Carlton, James T.; OCLC: 41228685; 1998
· Canada and Marine Environmental Protection: Charting a Legal Course Towards Sustainable Development; VanderZwaag, David L.; ISBN: 9041108564; 1995
· Exotic Species and the Shipping Industry: The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Ecosystem at Risk: A Special Report to the Governments of the United States and Canada; ISBN: 1895085144; 1990
· Globalism :People, Profits, and Progress : Proceedings of the 30th Annual Conference of the Canadian Council on International Law, Ottawa, October 18-20, 2001; ISBN: 9041198997, 9041199004; 2002
· International Marine Environmental Law: Institutions, Implementation and Innovations; Andree Kirchner; ISBN: 9041120661; 2002
· The Introduction of Nonindigenous Species to the Chesapeake Bay Via Ballast Water: Strategies to Decrease the Risks of Future Introductions Through Ballast Water Management; Chesapeake Bay Commission.; OCLC: 32250924; 1995
· The Marine Mammal Commission Compendium of Selected Treaties, International Agreements, and Other Relevant Documents on Marine Resources, Wildlife, and the Environment. Second Update; Weiskel, Heidi W.; ISBN: 0160506883; 2000
· Pollution from Offshore Installations; Gavouneli, Maria; ISBN: 1859661866; 1853332755 (series); 1995
· Safer Ships, Cleaner Seas: Report of Lord Donaldson's Inquiry Into the Prevention of Pollution from Merchant Shipping: Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Transport by Command of Her Majesty. Donaldson, John Francis; ISBN: 0101256027; May 1994.
· Turning the tide [electronic resource]: addressing the impact of fisheries on the marine environment
· International Legal Problems of the Environmental Protection of the Baltic Sea; Fitzmaurice, M.; ISBN: 0792314026; 1992
· The Stockholm Declaration and Law of the Marine Environment; Myron H Nordquist, John Norton Moore, Said Mahmoudi; ISBN: 9041199403, 904119942X; 2003
Associations’ webpages make a good resource to learn about members’ mindset and the clues about their support or opposition to the specific legal instruments. Also, they provide links to texts or abstracts of their publications. Overall, these pages keep the interested parties abreast of the new developments about an issue.
These sites provide information similar to that provided by Association’s webpages.
- BIMCO – The Baltic and International Maritime Council
- HELMEPA – Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association
- INTERTANKO - International Association of Independent Tanker Owners
- International Shipping Federation
- Chamber of Shipping of America
· Marine Technology Abstracts (Institute of Marine Engineers/British Maritime Technology)
· Internet Guide to International Fisheries Law: Part 7 Protection of the Marine Environment
· International Marine Environmental Law: Institutions, Implementation and Innovations
· Megalaw.com – Lawyers’ Window to the Web
· Library of Congress Call Numbers - K3589.6; K3590.4
· Law Lists – (search for admiralty or maritime for appropriate lists)