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Exploitable results

MARPOL Regulations are extensive and comprehensive and there is already sufficient effort being expended by IMO and others to keep the necessary technology and equipment up to date and relevant in the current environmental climate. The Regulations are having an effect although to what degree is less easy to assess. There is no doubt that if awareness of the regulations alone was used as a measure, then MARPOL would certainly be judged a success. Nevertheless, there is some evidence to show that the marine environment is improving and that the maritime community is playing its part. However, there is no room for complacency. Information and data about waste quantities generated and landed, even from developed countries, is sparse. Environmental data is well meaning but too fragmented for firm conclusions to be drawn. National statistics from ports are required in a comprehensive and standardised form. The accurate reporting of annual totals for each MARPOL Annex would be a major step forward. Environmental data gathering on a long term, common, basis is essential. Communications between the various parties in the waste management chain must be improved. This can be achieved relatively simply by ensuring that the ship reports its requirements, acknowledged by the port and the information is passed on to the waste contractor. The way in which each link operates will vary enormously in each port, but the links must be established and staff trained to use them. An authorised and proven waste management plan for every port would set the framework for such a communications system. A move towards the standardisation of what a ship's crew could expect to find in every port has considerable merit. Simple standard pictograms would be a start with, possibly, standardised containers for garbage much further along the waste management road. The most urgent work necessary to improve the implementation of MARPOL and to enable meaningful research to be carried out to measure the effectiveness of the MARPOL Regulations is set out in the following list. Note that very little hardware development is necessary, the exception being the possible use of standardised containers. Research and development programmes should be set up to: - establish criteria for the assessment of the environmental impact of the MARPOL regulations - require all ports to prepare waste management plans - carry out independent audits of port reception facilities - establish actual waste factors - based on waste landed by environmentally conscious ship operators - provide common standards for reporting quantities of ships' operational waste landed under MARPOL Regulations - promote the use of common units of quantity for ships' waste - investigate a simple and practical standardised container system - establish common standards and procedures for beach litter monitoring campaigns - improve accessibility of environmental data through the use of centralised databases - increase research on environmental impact of chemical spillages and discharge of sewage waste