London protocol on prevention of marine pollution

Official title: London Protocol on Prevention of Marine Pollution (Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter)

Subject category:
Marine / Oceans
Type of agreement / instrument:
Multilateral
Form:
Legally-binding treaty
Status:
  • Parties adopted the London Protocol as a new stand-alone treaty November 8, 1996, at the Special Meeting of the Parties to the London Convention 1972.
  • Canada acceded to the Protocol May 15, 2000.
  • London Protocol entered into force March 24, 2006 (operates in parallel with older London Convention). As of 2015 there are 48 Parties to the London Protocol.
Lead & partner departments:
Lead:
Environment and Climate Change Canada
Partners:
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Global Affairs Canada (GAC), Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), Transport Canada (TC).
For further information:
Web links:
Contacts:
ECCC Inquiry Centre
Compendium edition:
February 2017
Reference #:
M-M&O-3/EN

PDF version – 794 kB

Objective

The objective of the London Protocol is to protect and preserve the marine environment from all sources of pollution and take effective measures, according to scientific, technical and economic capabilities to prevent, reduce and where practicable eliminate pollution caused by dumping. The Protocol is a full treaty intended to eventually replace the London Convention 1972 (LC72).

Key elements

The Protocol prohibits the disposal at sea of wastes and other matter except under a permit issued by a contracting Party.

Under the London Convention, disposal of certain wastes are prohibited while under the London Protocol all wastes are prohibited. Only a small list of low risk wastes can be considered for permits; a site-specific assessment must be conducted before a permit is issued.

Parties must :

  • prohibit dumping and operate a permit system;
  • implement a precautionary approach to environmental protection;
  • take into account the polluter pay principle;
  • not transfer damage from one component of the environment to another;
  • prohibit the export of wastes for dumping at sea and incineration at sea of wastes;
  • keep records and monitor, enforce, and report on actions under the Protocol;
  • provide technical assistance to other parties on a voluntary basis; and
  • promote development of international measures to protect the marine environment from all sources of pollution.

Recent amendments include permits for sub seabed storage of carbon dioxide streams and a new permit system for ocean fertilization.

Expected results

Prevention of marine pollution from dumping.

Better knowledge of state of environment and sustainable use of resources through monitoring and reporting.

Shared guidance on assessment and monitoring.

Enabling of sub-seabed storage of CO2 and its export to other countries for storage and further regulation of ocean fertilization (when amendments enter into force).

Canada’s involvement

Canada has been actively involved in the treaty from its development and participated in its negotiation, including recent amendments.

Environment and Climate Change Canada implements the London Protocol domestically and meets its obligations through the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

ECCC assesses wastes, controls disposal, monitors disposal sites, and reports to the London Protocol at annual meetings.

Results / progress

Activities

Parties meet annually in the fall for policy and in the spring for science and technical aspects. Intersessional work is also conducted to advance positions, guidance, reporting, and technical cooperation and assistance.

Since entry in to force in 2006, the London Protocol has been amended (2006, 2009) to enable storage of carbon dioxide in sub-seabed formations and in 2013 to further regulate ocean fertilization.

In 2017, a Canadian will be the Chair of the Scientific Group [Sub body to the Meeting of Parties (MOP)] and another Canadian will be the Chair of the Compliance Group (second sub-body to the MOP).

In 2016, a new strategic plan was adopted.

Reports

Reports on disposal activities and disposal site monitoring activities are required annually. Reports on legislation and compliance are required regularly.

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