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Ocean Law Bulletins

Fiji Marine Pollution Law Series - legal consequences of littering and failing to dispose of consumer waste responsibly

Jul 10, 2018 / by James Sloan and Emily Samuela posted in Oceans Law, Fiji mangroves, Fiji fisheries, Marine Conservation, Fiji Oceans, Environmental governance, Fiji lawyers, Fiji marine pollution law, Fiji Environmental law

The largest ocean on earth is also home to the largest collection of floating rubbish/garbage which scientists have coined "The Great Pacific Garbage Patch".

The statistics about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch provide terrifying reading and are summarised by the National Geographic in a recent online article that can be found here. The article explains that the floating garbage weighs 79,000 tonnes and is predominantly plastics originating from both land based (80%) and ocean based activities (20%), includes discarded fishing gear, waste from the 2011 Japanese Tsunami and perhaps most worryingly contains an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic of which microplastics comprise 94%.

One of the solutions to this horrendous human made problem is for each country to regulate and control littering and the failure to responsibly dispose of household and consumer waste. In this 3rd legal bulletin in this Fiji Marine Pollution Law Series, we consider Fiji's legal framework to regulate and control littering.

While outside the scope of this legal bulletin we acknowledge that:

  • other regulatory and innovative solutions must be found globally to reduce or eliminate the use of plastics and find other more environmentally friendly consumer packaging
  • Pacific Islands are not the main cause of this global issue
  • Responsible consumer choices and manufacturing choices are required
  • Fiji has started using innovative mechanisms to discourage the use of plastics like introducing a charge for single use plastic bags.
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Fiji Marine Pollution Law Series - industrial pollution

Jul 9, 2018 / by James Sloan and Emily Samuela posted in Oceans Law, Fiji mangroves, Environmental Management Act 2005, Marine Conservation, Fiji Oceans, The Environment Management Act, Fiji's Constitution, Environmental governance, Fiji law, Nearshore Fiji fisheries, Fiji lawyers, Fiji marine pollution law, Fiji Environmental law

The major threats to our oceans are well understood, and include pollution from land based sources.

For a full list of the major threats to our oceans the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) sets them out here and also explains that:

Untreated sewage, garbage, fertilizers, pesticides, industrial chemicals, plastics ... most of the pollutants on land eventually make their way into the ocean, either deliberately dumped there or entering from water run-off and the atmosphere. Not surprisingly, this pollution is harming the entire marine food chain - all the way up to humans.

In this second legal bulletin in the Fiji Marine Pollution Law Series, we consider Fiji’s legal and regulatory framework in relation to marine pollution from land based industrial or commercial activities. For those interested in this area, it should be noted that Mr Filimone Tuivanualevu who is admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the High Court of Fiji, has also published a legal bulletin entitled "How does the law protect rivers in Fiji from pollution?" which can be found here.

In further planned legal bulletins in this series we will consider Fiji's laws in relation to marine pollution from household waste and the potential civil liability that polluters who cause harm may incur based on common law negligence.

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Fiji Marine Pollution Law Series - Pollution from Ships

Jul 6, 2018 / by Emily Samuela posted in Fiji Oceans, Fiji pollution law, Fiji marine pollution law, Fiji shipping, marine pollution from shipping

Pollution in our oceans is a major cause for concern as it damages the marine environment that we depend on.

Sources of marine pollution are diverse and include pollution from:

  • Ships
  • Land-based activities such as industrial, agricultural and household wastes
  • Overuse of plastics and their careless disposal
  • Dumping of wastes at sea, and
  • Off-shore activities such as deep sea mining - the effects of which seem to be unknown at this point in time.

In the Pacific region, the shipping industry is a vital means of transportation and trade. However, pollution from the shipping industry in Fiji has recently become a trending topic as pictures surfaced on social media showing a ship engaged in deliberately pumping of oil into the Suva harbour. This story was covered in Fiji's press including in this Fiji Times article

About the Fiji Marine Pollution Law Series

In this bulletin we consider Fiji’s national laws and the relevant criminal offences in relation to different types of marine pollution from ships. We note but do not consider in this bulletin the additional International laws that prohibit dumping of waste and other hazardous materials at sea and also regulate oil spillages from ships and other vessels. 

In further legal bulletins as part of the Fiji Marine Pollution Law Series we will consider the law in relation to marine pollution arising from:

  • Industrial sources; and
  • Household waste
We will also consider in a further legal bulletin the high duty of care that polluters may owe to those who suffer damage as a result of marine pollution and hence the potential civil liability of polluters in the common law of negligence and nuisance. This is a separate and cross cutting legal question because in common law jurisdictions like Fiji the polluter owes a high duty of care to avoid causing likely harm to others regardless of whether the polluter is a ship, industrial facility, commercial entity or individual.
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