Marine pollution is now ubiquitous in Caribbean waters, and a serious threat to the Blue Economy. Pollution, including marine litter, plastics, sewage, oil and chemicals, impacts the value of the goods and services provided by the oceans, including quality of fisheries and the pristine marine environment highly valued by the tourism sector. The region is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of marine pollution due to the dependence of its people on natural resources in combination with its vast exposed coastlines. Understanding and addressing marine pollution in the region is an economic and social priority in addition to the environmental threat. Countries now recognize the potential of the ocean and are weighing policy shifts to protect their valuable coastal and marine natural capital to reap the full benefits of the Blue Economy.
This report provides an assessment of the status and impacts of marine pollution in the Caribbean and provides recommendations to enhance the region’s resilience as it steers toward the Blue Economy. The report compiles data and findings on marine pollution from a variety of sources and publications to provide meaningful guidance to policy and decision makers in the WCR, especially Caribbean SIDS and donor partners supporting the post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda. It highlights the major socio-economic, health, and ecological impacts of marine pollution, and provides an assessment of the main marine pollutants in the region including marine and coastal litter, untreated wastewater, and agricultural run-off. Industrial pollution and waste from shipping are not widely documented in the region but potentially important, and thus are included in the report. The main regional policy frameworks, initiatives and programs relevant to marine pollution management are also described, followed by a 12-point agenda for addressing the challenges in support of a strong and productive Caribbean Blue Economy.