Marine Pollution

Marine Pollution

Last Updated: March 2023

This article deals with ‘Marine Pollution – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Environment’ which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles on Environment, you can click here.


Marine Pollution is the spread of chemicals, particles, industrial, agricultural & residential wastes, and noise or invasive organisms in the marine environment. 

Effects of Marine Pollution

Marine Pollution
  • Bioaccumulation of toxins in zooplanktons & phytoplanktons 
  • Eutrophication
  • Ocean acidification 
  • Coral bleaching


Causes of Marine Pollution
  • Oil Spills: From ships carrying oil or from accidents in the deep ocean oil extraction facilities. 
  • Eutrophication: It results due to the fertilizer runoff from the farms. Eutrophication has created dead zones in several parts of the world, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Baltic Sea. 
  • Disposal of sewage and solid garbage
  • Spread of invasive organisms: Invasive species multiply rapidly due to the absence of natural predators and damage the original ecosystem. E.g. zebra mussel in Great Lakes from the Black Sea in 1988. 
  • Increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 make the oceans more acidic, affecting calcifying organisms.

Steps taken by the International Community

  • United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS): The convention acts as an effective international law regarding seas and oceans. 
  • London Convention: To prevent deliberate Marine Pollution by dumping wastes (India is not a member of the London Convention). 
  • International Maritime Organisation  (a UN specialized agency) has developed a number of legal frameworks related to the marine environment.
  • Bunker Convention for effective compensation for damage caused by oil spills
  • Ballast Water Management Convention

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