Abstract The South African marine environment is constantly exposed to considerable levels of pressure. These pressures undermine the near pristine marine biodiversity and the citizens' right to a clean environment. This paper critically analyses international conventions and South African legislative frameworks for addressing marine oil spills. To achieve this purpose, content analysis of international conventions and South African policy and legislative documents relating to marine oil spills was conducted. In this regard, three international conventions, two marine civil liability laws in South Africa, seven environmental and conservation management laws for marine pollution in South Africa, and two disaster risk management policy and legislative frameworks were analysed. The findings of this paper demonstrate that South African marine pollution management is on a reasonable development path. However, invariably, challenges in terms of enforcement capacity, complicated and ineffective provisions continue. This study thus calls for an institutional and legislative reform that will embrace integrated management strategies, clearer provisions of legal powers, and strict enforcement of existing laws.

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