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A review of marine pollution issues in the Caribbean

Abstract

Marine pollution and coastal degradation have become serious development issues in the Caribbean. Early evidence of marine pollution was mainly anecdotal, but within the last 10--15 years, work conducted by universities and research institutions in the Region has provided the beginnings of a database that identifies several common marine pollution problems. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and the Pan American World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) have also been instrumental in co-ordinating several marine pollution studies. In the English-speaking Caribbean, the University of the West Indies, the Institute of Marine Affairs in Trinidad and Tobago, and the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute located in St Lucia, have taken a lead role in identifying marine pollution problems in their Sub-Region. For the Wider Caribbean a database for petroleum pollution and marine debris has been developed. Land-based sources of marine pollution have been identified as a major problem, with several ‘hot spots’ identified in mainland countries and in some of the larger industrialised islands. Organic and nutrient pollution, particularly from sewage, is most widespread and is possibly the most serious marine pollution problem in the Caribbean. A lack of capital investment funds to install the appropriate infrastructure to deal with sewage and other liquid effluents is a major stumbling block to solving the problem of marine pollution in the Caribbean. Other factors include political will and administrative and legal structures to regulate human development activities.

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Siung-Chang, A. A review of marine pollution issues in the Caribbean. Environmental Geochemistry and Health 19, 45–55 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1018438119034

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  • oil pollution
  • marine debris
  • sewage
  • nutrients