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International Efforts to Protect the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (from NOAA's 200th Anniversary Web Site)

U.N. Environmental Program

Joining Forces to Halt Marine Pollution in the Caribbean


Officials in Dominica head across a stream in the jungle. Team members must identify where the major land-based pollution sources are in order to form a plan to stop that pollution from entering streams and rivers. Once pollutants get in the water, they are carried to the sea.

The NOS International Program Office recently wrapped up meetings with officials from Trinidad and Tobago, the latest in a series of talks aimed at providing technical assistance to Caribbean countries to reduce land-based sources of pollution to the marine environment.

These meetings follow recent engagements with officials in Dominica, Grenada, and Suriname.

NOS works with over a dozen Caribbean nations as part of a long-standing partnership with the U.N. Environmental Program.

In the Caribbean, approximately 80 percent of ocean pollution originates from activities on land such as deforestation, farming, sewage, and municipal discharge. As human populations expand in coastal areas, increased development leads to more and more pollution. This pollution is carried away by water to the sea.


A derelict boat in the coastal waters of Suriname.

This runoff often carries large quantities of sediment from landclearing, high levels of nutrients from agricultural areas and sewage outflows, and pollutants such as petroleum products and pesticides. These land-based sources of pollution threaten coral reefs and all coastal marine life.

After advising Trinidad and Tobago over the past two years on the development of a national plan to reduce polluted runoff, National Ocean Service experts are now helping the island nation put the plan in motion.