75 SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT LAW & POLICY
by Nick Alarif and Kate Halloran*
*Nick Alarif and Kate Halloran are J.D. candidates, May 2011, a t American
University Washington College of Law.
The Caribbean’s fragile marine ecosystem is at a grave risk
due to a non-native intruder, the red lionﬁsh.1 The red lionﬁsh
is especially destructive to ecosystems because of its voracious
eating habit s.2 A single red lionﬁsh is ab le to reduce th e num-
ber o f small ﬁsh in a coral pa tch reef by eighty percent in as
little as ﬁve weeks.3 It is believed that the red lionﬁsh was intro-
duced to the Atlantic during Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which
is thought to have shattered private aquariums releasing the ﬁsh
into Miami’s Biscayne Bay.4 Covered with poisonous pector al
spines, the red lio nﬁsh has no natural predat or in the Atlantic
and has increased in numbers tenfold from 2005 through 2007.5
To try and solve this p otentially devastating ecolog ical
threat, conservationists ha ve developed an innovative plan by
combining business and conserv ation: sell the ﬁsh to consum-
ers.6 Companies, such as Sea to Table, have begun to work with
local ﬁshermen in the Bahamas by helping the ﬁsh ermen sell
their red lionﬁsh catch to upscale metropolitan restaurants in the
United States. 7 During initial tr ials in New York and Chicago,
restaurants sold out of the red lionﬁsh within two nights.8
A former luxury American ocean liner that is believed to be
laden with high quantities of toxins recently arrived in Alang,
India, the hub of India’s ship-breaking yards.9 The Platinum-II
was previous ly anchored forty miles from Alang as the Indian
government decided whether or not to allow the ship to be dis-
mantled on its shores.10 According to the Indi an Platform on
Ship-breaki ng, the Platinum-II contains close to 20 0 tons of
asbestos and about 210 tons of materials contaminated by toxic
polychl orinated biphen yls (“PCBs”) as well a s r adioactive
substances.11 Groups suc h as Greenpeace opine tha t Alang’s
ship-breaking yards are ill-equip ped to safely dismant le such
The scrapping of the Platin um-II is i n vi olation of the
Basel Tre aty,13 which bans signing countri es, including In dia,
from receiving hazardous waste from countries who have not
signed the treaty, which includes the United States.14 However,
Indian authorities have stipulated that the Platinum-II should be
beached and disassembled in Alang, citing safety concerns that
the Platinum-II was in too poor a condition and may break apart
in the open ocean.15 Earlier this year, the Environmental Protec-
tion Agency enacted ﬁnes against the owners of the Platinum-II
in amounts close to $518,000 for illegal distribution and export
of a ship containing PCBs. The Platinum-II, however, was not
recalled to U.S. shores.16
In addition, the health costs of dismantling aging ocean-lin-
ers is extremely high to the local Indian shipyard workers; a 2006
report by India’s Supreme Court showed that one in six Alang
shipyard laborers was suffering from symptoms of asbestosis, a
fatal illness, and that the number of fatal accidents in the ship-
yard was six times higher than even the averag e in the nations
mining industry.17 Most shipyard laborers earn only about $2 to
$3 a day. Even with such risks to workers, Indian authorities are
hesitant to close down the shipyard as it is extremely proﬁtable;
scrapping a single ship can bring in revenues o f close to $10
The proposed construction of a hydroelectric dam along
the Zambezi River in Mozambique has stirred conﬂict between
locals and environmental advo cates.19 While gover nment ofﬁ-
cials argue the dam w ill bene ﬁt loca l villag es by supplying
electricity and fostering development, environmental ac tivists
assert the constructio n will displace approximately 1,400 small
farmers.20 The advocates also contend that another dam on the
Zambezi River has negatively affected the ecology of the river,
disrupting ﬁshing and agriculture in the area, and that a second
dam would on ly worsen the situation.21 The Mozambican gov-
ernment believes it can build the dam and minimize impacts to
the environment.22 Construction is scheduled to begin in 2011.23
In eastern Africa, the United Nations World Food Pro-
gramme proje cts that $285 million is needed to stem a hunger
crisis resulting from disastrous drought conditions.24 Some har-
vests have been completely wiped out.25 A severe lack of rainfall
has contributed to the crisis and forced residents to drink water
from contaminated sources.26 Oxfam argues that, in addition to
addressing the immediate food needs of eastern Africa, better
irrigation and wells are essential tools to reduce the impact of
drought in the future.27 The Food and Agricultural Organization
advocates a re silient variety of rice p acked with more nutrition
that could help curb the food crisis.28
Swedes are gaining a fresh perspective on their food as
many markets and restaurants are listing the amount of carbon
dioxide emitted on package labels and menus.29 This initiative
follows new nutritional guidelines released over the summer by
the Swedish Natio nal Food Administration.30 The pi oneering
labels couple environmental concerns over climate change with
health concerns.31 The guidelines advocate choosing vegetables
and mea ts that requ ire less ener gy to produce and do not rec-
ommend consuming ﬁsh due to Europe’s suffering ﬁsh stocks.32
Critics argue that the average consumer may feel overwhelmed
by the deluge of considerations when buying a bunch of carrots,
and that it is difﬁcult to accurately calculate the emissions gener-
ated by a food product.33
1 See Invasive Red Lionﬁsh Threatens Reef Fish in Caribbean, yale
env’t 360, Aug. 15, 2008, available at http://e360.yale.edu/content/digest.
2 See id.
3 See id.
4 See David McFadden, Red lionﬁsh invade the Caribbean, l.a. timeS, Aug.
16, 2008, available at http://articles.latimes.com/2008/aug/16/science/sci-
5 National Aquarium Waterlog, Now serving, red lionﬁsh, Oct. 14, 2009,
available at http://nationalaquarium.wordpress.com/2009/10/14/now-serving-
6 See Science & Technology, Eat for the ecosystem, economiSt.com, Oct.
15, 2009, available at http://www.economist.com/sciencetechnology/Printer-
7 See id.
8 See id.
9 Common Dreams, US Toxic Ship Lands in India, Oct. 23, 2009, available
at http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2009/10/23 [hereinafter Common
10 Suda Ramachandran, Toxic Alert as US Ship Heads for India, aSia timeS
online, Oct. 24, 2009, available at http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/
11 See id.
12 See id.
13 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazard-
ous Wastes and their Disposal, March 22, 1989, 1673 UNTS 126, available at
14 Common Dreams, supra note 9.
15 Nitin Sethi, Toxic Waste on U.S. Ship: Gujarat Panel, timeS of inDia,
Oct. 17, 2009, available at http://timesof india.com/articleshow/msid-
16 Ramachandran, supra note 10.
17 Jacob Baynham, India, World Shipping’s Toxic Waste Dump, Sfgate,
July 6, 2008, available at http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/
18 See id.
19 Pete Browne, Debate Over Dams on Africa’s Zambezi River, n.y. timeS,
Oct. 19, 2009, available at http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/19/
20 Zenaida Machado, Watching the Water Flow Away, allafrica.com, Oct.
23, 2009, available at http://allafrica.com/stories/200910230853.html.
21 See id.
22 See Browne, supra note 19.
23 See id.
24 Ethiopia asks for Urgent Food Aid, bbc newS, Oct. 22, 2009, available at
25 See id.
26 Millions Facing Famine in Ethiopia as Rain Fails, the inDepenDent, Aug.
30, 2009, available at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/mil-
27 See Machado, supra note 20.
28 Mark Kapchanga, FAO Introduces New Rice to Fight Food Shortages in
Region, allafrica.com, Oct. 19, 2009, available at http://allafrica.com/sto-
29 Elizabeth Rosenthal, To Cut Global Warming, Swedes Study Their Plates,
n.y. timeS, Oct. 22, 2009, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/23/
30 See id.
31 Jennifer LaRue Huget, For Food Labels, First Calories, Now Carbon Foot-
prints?, waShington poSt, Oct. 26, 2009, available at http://voices.washington-
32 See Rosenthal, supra note 29.
33 Madeleine Kennedy, Is Carbon Counting the New Calorie Counting?,
atlantic, Oct. 30, 2009, available at http://business.theatlantic.com/2009/10/_
Endnotes: World News