As marine litter originates from many different sources, can move long distances and persist in the marine environment for many years, it is very difficult to determine who has responsibility for addressing the issue and how to target effective enforcement of laws and regulatory systems.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has acted to try and address pollution from ship-based sources, through the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). Annex V of MARPOL deals specifically with the disposal of garbage from vessels, and includes a total ban on the disposal of plastics from vessels anywhere in the world’s seas and oceans. It also places a legal requirement on port states to provide adequate facilities in ports to receive garbage from vessels.
The UNEP Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA), inter alia aims to reduce the amount of litter reaching the marine environment by prevention or reduction of the generation of solid waste, and to establish environmentally sound facilities for receiving, collecting, handling and disposing of litter. The Basel Convention also addresses this issue, inter alia, through programmes on plastic waste.
However, control and reduction of marine litter has not been covered by any single global convention, initiative or programme, and the increasing severity of the problem indicates that the various existing but un-coordinated initiatives are not currently effective.
- Title: Marine Litter in the East Asian Seas Region (COBSEA)
- Date: 05 Aug 2019