• Naval Headquarters Complex, Banani, Dhaka–1213, Bangladesh
  • 8:00am - 2:30pm
    Sunday to Thursday

Marine Pollution Control: Governance Challenges

Cheryl Rita Kaur
MSc in Marine Science, Policy and Law (with Merit) from the University of Southampton UK

Keywords: Marine, Pollution, Transboundary, Environmental, Treaties, Region, Malaysia.,


Marine pollution is a challenging issue as it involves present and emerging areas (e.g. fisheries, shipping, ecosystems, and biodiversity) and are often transboundary in nature, making governance solutions complex.The continuing threat of pollution on coastal and marine environment and resources has been addressed using national, regional, and international governance mechanisms. Recent deliberations emphasise on the need for coordinated, adaptive and directed responses to the challenges and opportu- nities in accordance to the frameworks of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and other relevant environmental treaties. This paper focuses on the coastal and marine pollution management frameworks in Malaysia and the region. Existing management frameworks have been developed through regional projects and programmes supported by various international (e.g., UNEP) and regional institutions (e.g., ASEAN, COBSEA, PEMSEA, IORA, LMEs). Although these frameworks take a holistic and functional management approach, there is a general limitation in terms of legally binding regional policies on addressing marine pollution due to the varying geographical, political, social as well as economic settings of countries. Countries have been active in various projects and programmes in the region, though compliance to obligations of the international and regional conventions on coastal and marine pollution management had been limited in some areas. For instance, an analysis of the drivers and pressures on coastal and marine ecosystems as well as its current state show that pollut- ants persist despite efforts to manage their release from anthropogenic sources. This paper provides a case study focusing on marine plastic pollu- tion as an emerging issue, with an emphasis on actions by Malaysia. On a broader level, the option for a region-wide and legal framework for effec- tive management of coastal and marine pollution issues are further explored.


1. ADB. 2010. Achieving the millennium goals in an era of uncertainty. Asia Pacific Report. Manila, Philippines. Asian Development Bank.

2. Ali, M. 2003. National report of the Maldives. Unpublished report prepared for the BOBLME Programme. Retrieved from www.boblme.org

3. Arshad, A.M. (ed.) 2014. The Paradox of the Straits of Malacca: Balancing Priorities for a Sustainable Future, 360 pp. Maritime Institute of Malaysia (MIMA).

4. Angell, C.L. 2004. Review of critical habitats: mangroves and coral reefs. Unpublished report prepared for the BOBLME Programme. Retrieved from www.boblme.org

5. Belkin, I.M. 2009. Rapid warming of Large Marine Ecosystems. Progress in Oceanogra- phy, 207-213.

6. BOBLME. 2010. Coastal pollution loading and water quality criteria - Maldives. BOBLME-2010-Ecology-06.

7. BOBLME. 2011. Country report on pollution - Bangladesh. BOBLME-2011-Ecology-01.

8. Changsang, H., Satpoomin, U. &Poovachiranon, S. 1999. Maps of coral reefs in Thai waters. Volume 2: The Andaman Sea (in Thai). Bangkok, Thailand. Thailand Department of Fisheries.

9. Chavan, V.S., Jagtap, T.G. &Untawale, A.G. 1992. Asia Pacific mangrove information network (APMIN). A conceptual model. ISME Mangrove Ecosystems Technical Report, 5.

10. Chia, L.S. 2000. Overview of impact of sewage on the marine environment of East Asia: social and economic opportunities. EAS/RCU Technical Report Series No. 15. 82 pp.

11. Chua, T.E. & Ross, A. (eds.) 1996. Marine pollution prevention and management in the East Asian Seas: from planning to action. MPP-EAS Technical Report No. 8, 46 pp. Global Environment Facility/ United Nations Development Programme/International Maritime Organisation Regional Programme for the Prevention and Management of Marine Pollu- tion in the East Asian Sea, Manila, Philippines.

12. Conservation International. 2008. Economic values of coral reefs, mangroves and seagrasses: A global comparison.Arlington, USA. Centre for Applied Biodiversity Science, Conservation International.

13. Dwivedi, S. N. &Choubey, A.K. 1998. Indian Ocean Large Marine Ecosystems: need for national and regional framework for conservation and sustainable development. In K. Sherman, E. Okewa& M. Ntiba. Large Marine Ecosystems of the Indian Ocean: assess- ment, sustainability and management. Cambridge, USA. Blackwell Science, Inc. pp. 361-368.

14. Ellison, W. 1998. Managing mangroves with benthic biodiversity in mind: moving beyond roving banditry. Journal of Sea Research, 59: 2-15.

15. Ertemeijer, R.A. &Bualuang, A. 1998. Participation of local communities in mangrove forest rehabilitation in Pattani Bay, Thailand: learning from success and failures. In Strate- gies for wise use of wetlands: best practices in participatory management. Proceedings of a workshop at the Second International Conference on Wetlands and Development. Dakar, Senegal, November 1998. pp. 27-35.

16. Fonseca, M.S., Julius, B.E. &Kenworthy, W.J. 2000. Integrating biology and economics in seagrass restoration: how much is enough and why? Ecological Engineering, 15: 227-237.

17. GESAMP. 2001. Protecting the oceans from land based activities. Land-based sources and activities affecting the quality and uses of marine, coastal and associated freshwater environment. GESAMP Reports and Studies No. 71. 162 pp.

18. Ibrahim, H.M. &Hairil, A.H. (eds.) 2008. Profile of the Straits of Malacca: Malaysia’s Perspective, 215 pp. Maritime Institute of Malaysia (MIMA).

Marine Pollution Control: Governance Challenges