Cartagena Convention

Adopted in 1983 and implemented in 1986, the Cartagena Convention is a regional legal agreement for the protection of the Caribbean Sea. One of the major foci of this agreement is development of legal protocols for dealing with land-based sources of marine pollution. Details on the specific protocols for this particular portion of the agreement took longer to be ratified by countries in the region, and did not come into effect until 1999. The agreement sets out specific effluent limitations on domestic wastewater and land-based pollutants (e.g., nitrogen, phosphorus), and requires development of plans to deal with run-off from non-point pollution. There is also agreement that each country will participate in coordinated activities and practices that prevent, reduce, and control sources of land-based pollution across the region. During this process, parties agree to share technologies, successes, and scientific information that will help partners become more efficient in controlling land-based pollution. Also included in this sharing are commitments to hold cross-country meetings and training workshops, as well as country specific and region-wide public campaigns. One of the most important stipulations in the agreement is that all participating countries have agreed to treat all domestic wastewater in their countries, so that effluent meets specified standards. This requires that participating countries increase monitoring of effluent from wastewater treatment plans, as well as monitoring the condition and effectiveness of septic systems.