Background to dumping at sea

The London Convention 1972 (and subsequent Protocol of 1996)1, is one of the first global conventions to protect the marine environment from human activities and has been in force since 1975. Its objective is to promote the effective control of all sources of marine pollution and to take all practicable steps to prevent pollution of the sea caused by dumping of wastes and other matter.

The OSPAR Convention 19922 requires contracting parties to protect the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic Ocean from pollution and regulate dumping at sea.

Both conventions have published guidelines on management of dredged material, covering:

  • Evaluating alternative disposal, treatment and beneficial re-use options
  • Offshore dump site selection
  • Sediment sampling and analysis
  • Assessment of potential effects
  • Best environmental practice
  • Monitoring and reporting

Member countries MUST report to OSPAR annually, with details of all substances dumped at sea. In Ireland, Dumping at Sea permit holders are obliged to include their OSPAR return as part of their Annual Environmental Report to the EPA.

 1 Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter 1972 and 1996 Protocol thereto

2 The Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic 1992