New legal weapon to combat
Caribbean marine pollution
The Caribbean Sea is a natural resource of great importance. It is home to a diverse population of species,
it supports tourism, fisheries, transportation, trade and recreation, and forms the lifeblood of Caribbean
Small Island Developing States.
Alas, its fragile, vulnerable coastal and marine ecosystems are under threat from human activities. Over
80 per cent of the Caribbean Seaís pollution originates from land-based sources, and over 75 per cent of
domestic wastewater enters the Sea untreated.
Since 1992, UNEP has facilitated discussions between Governments and regional experts to address these
problems. As a result, in 1983, 28 countries adopted the only legally binding regional agreement for the
protection and development of the marine environment in the Wider Caribbean Region Ė the Cartagena
Convention. The Conventionís three technical protocols promote biodiversity conservation, oil spills
prevention and reducing land-based sources of pollution.
The Protocol Concerning Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities (LBS Protocol), adopted in 1999,
is considered by many to be the most significant agreement of its kind ó it establishes regional effluent
limitations for domestic water and requires countries to institute national plans to address non-point
sources of pollution. The LBS Protocol formally entered into force in 2010.
The Protocol has already catalysed the development and implementation of several national and regional
projects on integrated management of watersheds and coastal areas, reducing pesticide run-off in Central
America, and developing a prototype regional fund for wastewater management.
This work has been led by the Caribbean Environment Programme and Convention Secretariat, which
come under the auspices of UNEPís Regional Seas Programme.