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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 20, 2007

Message to the Senate of the United States


I transmit herewith, for the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification, the Protocol Concerning Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities (the "Protocol") to the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region, with Annexes, done at Oranjestad, Aruba, on October 6, 1999, and signed by the United States on that same date. The report of the Secretary of State is enclosed for the information of the Senate.

The Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region (the "Cartagena Convention") is a regional framework agreement negotiated under the auspices of the Regional Seas Program of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). It sets out general legal obligations to protect the marine environment of the Gulf of Mexico, Straits of Florida, Caribbean Sea, and immediately adjacent areas of the Atlantic Ocean -- collectively known as the Wider Caribbean Region. The United States became a Party to the Cartagena Convention in 1984. The Cartagena Convention envisions the development of protocols to further elaborate certain of its general obligations and to facilitate its effective implementation.

Negotiated with the active participation and leadership of the United States, the Protocol addresses one of the most serious sources of marine pollution in the Wider Caribbean Region. It is estimated that 70 to 90 percent of pollution entering the marine environment emanates from land-based sources and activities. Among the principal land-based sources of marine pollution in the Caribbean are domestic wastewater and agricultural nonpoint source runoff. Such pollution contributes to the degradation of coral reefs and commercial fisheries, negatively affects regional economies, and endangers public health, recreation, and tourism throughout the region.

The Protocol and its Annexes list priority source categories, activities, and associated contaminants that affect the Wider Caribbean Region, and set forth factors that Parties will be required to apply in determining prevention, reduction, and control strategies to manage land-based sources of pollution. In particular, the Parties are required to ensure that domestic wastewater discharges meet specific effluent limitations, and to develop plans for the prevention and reduction of agricultural nonpoint source pollution. The Protocol is expected to raise standards for treating domestic wastewater throughout the region to levels close to those already in place in the United States.

The United States would be able to implement its obligations under the Protocol under existing statutory and regulatory authority.

The Protocol is the first regional agreement to establish effluent standards to protect one of our most valuable resources, the marine environment. It differs markedly from other, similar regional agreements in its conceptual approach and the specificity of its obligations. As such, the Protocol is expected to set a new standard for regional agreements on this subject. Early ratification will demonstrate our continued commitment to global leadership and to the protection of the marine environment of the Wider Caribbean Region.

I recommend that the Senate give early and favorable consideration to the Protocol and its Annexes, with the declaration described in the accompanying report of the Secretary of State, and give its advice and consent to ratification.



February 15, 2007.

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