The Associated Press reports that ‘Countries in the Caribbean have agreed to bar the dumping of all garbage at sea, ending rules that allow the disposal of metal, glass and other refuse a short distance from shore and almost any trash farther out.

‘The nations adopted the new requirement under the U.N.’s International Maritime Organization and it will take effect in May 2011, IMO consultant Jeff Ramos said Wednesday.

Ocean garbage endangers marine life, water quality, and local economies, just to name a few bad effects.

‘The United Nations created the ban to protect areas that are vulnerable because of heavy ship traffic or sensitive ecology. It has already taken effect in the Antarctic, the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean.

”It’s a big deal,’ said Ramos, a U.S. Coast Guard commander based on the Dutch island of Curacao near Venezuela. ‘Especially in the Caribbean, with all the tankers and the traffic going to the Panama Canal, it will make a big impact.’

‘The U.N. outlawed dumping in 1993 for the Caribbean, but it could not take effect until the region’s nations reported their capacity for receiving trash from ships. After a lengthy U.N. awareness campaign, member countries gave notice last month that enough receptacles were in place.

‘The new ban will outlaw discharging of any solid waste at any distance except for food, which could still be dumped 3 miles from shore. It will be up to individual countries to check ships’ logs and verify compliance.’

Ocean garbage endangers marine life, water quality, and the economies of the islands.