Year

2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security, Faculty of Law

Abstract

The protection and preservation of the marine environment from vessel source pollution is an important ecological issue that has captured world attention in the past five decades. Vessel source pollution incidents not only place a huge financial burden on the local population, but also threaten the viability of those parties responsible for the incident. The Maldivian archipelago is located in an area with an immensely high risk of vessel source pollution. Due to the low-lying, scattered island temperament and lack of clean-up technology and resources, if a maritime casualty were to occur in and around the Maldives, the country may not survive, at least socio-economically. Hence, each pollution accident is seen emotively as ‘one incident too many’. A growing environmental awareness that oceans are no longer an inexhaustible resource, and that the quality of the marine environment is deteriorating quite rapidly, has resulted in a complex system of integrated oceans policies, as well as the development of an international legal framework for the protection and preservation of the marine environment from vessel source pollution. The international legal framework consists of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 and multilateral regulatory conventions administered by the International Maritime Organization. Ineffective flag, coastal and port State jurisdiction is a primary factor contributing to large scale vessel source pollution incidents. Under the international legal framework, flag States have a legal responsibility to ensure that their vessels comply with international law, wherever the vessels are located. Coastal States have jurisdiction over foreign flagged vessels navigating in archipelagic waters, territorial sea, special pollution prevention areas, exclusive economic zone and on the high seas. This jurisdiction should be exercised without unduly frustrating the rights of passage of the vessels. Furthermore, port States have jurisdiction to inspect vessels voluntarily visiting their ports and internal waters in order to enforce internationally recognised and generally accepted standards for the protection of the marine environment. This thesis identifies and analyses the gaps between the international legal framework and the national legal framework for the protection and preservation of the marine environment from vessel source pollution, applicable to the flag, coastal and port States of Maldives. The thesis proves that the current legal framework of Maldives falls short of implementing the flag, coastal and port State prescriptive and enforcement jurisdiction under international law for the protection and preservation of the marine environment from vessel source pollution. Robust laws and policies are the building blocks for any State initiative aimed at preventing marine pollution. The thesis recommends that the Government of Maldives, with the approval of the Parliament, enact a composite law to address the inadequacies between the international and national legal framework examined in this thesis.

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