Marine Laws and Policy

Marine Laws and Policy


International Laws Governing the Protection of Coastal and Marine Areas and Species

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES)

CITES is an instrument that regulates international trade in wild animals and plants to ensure that such trade does not threaten the survival of these species. CITES entered into force in 1975 and has 183 Parties. India adopted CITES in 1976.

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    1. Trade in listed species is subject to a licensing system – export or import of a listed species requires obtaining an export and / or import permits from the concerned national authorities. The Convention has three appendices (Appendix I, II, III) under which species are listed and the degree of protection varies depending on which appendix a particular species is listed under. Currently, a total of 38,700 species are listed under the three Appendices.

    2. In India, the nodal agency for enforcement of CITES is the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), a statutory body under the MoEF&CC. The Regional Deputy Directors of WCCB have been designated as CITES Assistant Management Authorities and have been empowered to issue permits to regulate the international trade of species included in the CITES. The WCCB also assists and advises the Customs authorities in inspection of the consignments of flora & fauna as per the provisions of WLPA, CITES and foreign trade policy governing such an item.

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

CBD is an instrument that aims to (a) protect and conserve biodiversity, (b) ensure sustainable use of biological resources; (c) and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources. [31]. CBD came into force in 1993 and has 193 Parties. India adopted CBD in 1994.

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    1. Parties to the CBD set goals and targets every two years during the Conference of Parties. These goals and targets guide conservation actions for a particular time period. For instance, the Parties are currently negotiating the 30x30 Target - which aims to protect and conserve 30% of the world’s land and marine areas by 2030 - under the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

    2. Parties to CBD are required to implement the objectives of the Convention at the national level through an instrument called National Biodiversity Action Plans (NBSAP).

    3. India prepared its first NBSAP in 1999 and implements the provisions of CBD through the NBSAP, National Biodiversity Targets (NBTs) and the Indian Biological Diversity Act, 2002.

Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)

CMS is an international instrument that aims to protect migratory species in the air, oceans and on land by ensuring their sustainable use, and by protecting and conserving their habitats and migratory routes. CMS entered into force in 1983 and has 132 Parties. India adopted the Convention in 1983.

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    1. The Convention has two Appendices. Appendix I lists species that are currently threatened with extinction throughout all or a significant portion of their range. [32]. Appendix II contains those species with an unfavourable conservation status, and need or would benefit from global conservation efforts. [33].

    2. Apart from having marine species listed under the two appendices, there are currently twelve agreements under the Convention that are specifically aimed at conservation of marine species. CMS also promotes range states of migratory species to take concerted actions.
    3. India implements CMS by listing CMS species under the WLPA and BDA.

World Heritage Convention

The World Heritage Convention (WHC) was adopted during the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) meeting in Paris in 1972. India became a part of the convention in 1977.

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    1. The Convention ties together the concepts of nature conservation and the preservation of cultural properties, with consideration to people and their interactions with nature. The wildlife wing of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) is associated with the recognition and conservation of natural and cultural heritage sites in India.
    2. The WHC also runs the World Heritage Marine Programme with the mission to establish effective conservation of important existing and potential marine areas. Out of the 40 sites in India, the Sundarbans National Park (including the part in Bangladesh) is the only marine heritage site.

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

UNCLOS is a framework that establishes rules governing all uses of the oceans and resources.

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    1) While the sole purpose of the Convention is not the protection of coastal and marine areas, the Convention does contain special provisions in Part XII of the Convention that provide for the “Protection and Preservation of the Marine Environment.” The provisions contain both general and specific obligations of the Parties to prevent, reduce and control pollution. [34].

The Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal

The Basel Convention international treaty came into force in 1992 and India became a party to it in 1993. The treaty was designed to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations, and specifically to prevent transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries (LDCs).

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    1. This treaty was designed to reduce the amount of waste produced and transported between nations - specifically between developed and under-developed countries. As these wastes tend to be transported via ships, this treaty is highly relevant to the conservation of marine systems.
    2. With enormous amounts of waste ending up in the oceans, this treaty is useful to monitor, supervise and limit the extent of damage caused by waste to marine habitats and its biodiversity. Reducing marine plastic litter and nanomaterials, and the environmentally sound management of waste are some of the top environmental agendas of the Basel Convention.

The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL)

The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) is the principal international convention governing the prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes.

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    1. MARPOL, its 1978 Protocol and 6 annexes deal with regulations concerning prevention of accidental and operational pollution from ships. Both the instruments came into force in 1983. India ratified these annexes between 1986 and 2011.
    2. India implements the Conventions and its instruments though the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 and the Merchant Shipping Rules 2009.

International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (CLC)

The CLC was first adopted in 1969 to provide for compensation to people who are affected due to oil pollution by oil-carrying ships. The Convention was replaced and adopted in 1992. India acceded to the Convention in 1987.

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    1. The 1992 protocol increased the scope of the Convention to cover pollution damage caused in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and provides for limited environmental damage compensation.
    2. The Protocol also extended the Convention to cover spills from sea-going vessels constructed or adapted to carry oil in bulk as cargo so that it applies to both laden and unladen tankers, including spills of bunker oil from such ships.

The International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW), 1946

ICRW was adopted in 1946 for the purpose of conserving whale stocks for the orderly development of the whaling industry. India adopted the ICRW in 1981.

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    1. A decision-making body known as The International Whaling Commission (IWC) was established under the ICRW that is responsible for management of whaling and conservation of whales.
    2. ICRW contains a ‘Schedule’ that provides standards for the conservation and utilization of whale species. Three types of whaling are regulated under the Convention: Commercial, aborigional and scientific. At present, zero quotas are allowed under commercial whaling due to a moratorium adopted by the IWC in 1982, while aborigional whaling is subject to certain quotas as decided by the members of the IWC from time to time. Scientific whaling is subject to a licensing system.
    3. In India, all species of whales are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. In addition, blue whales are listed as ‘Threatened Species’ under Section 38 of the Biodiversity Act, 2002 by many states.