This chapter focuses on threats of pollution to the health of the marine environment. It focuses in particular on marine pollution. The oceans constitute a large expanse of common space. The oceans have been freely used for maritime commerce, exploitation of living resources, extraction of oil and gas, and as a disposal area for waste products for centuries. The law needs to protect marine ecosystems as much as any others on land. Climate change has now begun to harm marine ecosystems and international law needs to consider this. The chapter aims to demonstrate the extent to which an international legal regime for the control of marine pollution from ships has developed since 1972, and the degree to which it has proved effective. The big question is: how can it be made more effective in the future?
This chapter discusses international law governing freedom of the high seas, jurisdiction over ships on the high seas, regimes of transit to and from the high seas, regulation of high seas fisheries, and the seabed and ocean floor beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.