A leaked report by the German government has heavily criticised both the United Nations and the European Union’s efforts to prevent the continuing build up of marine waste at sea, the German magazine Spiegel Online has reported.

A leaked report by the German government has heavily criticised both the United Nations and the European Union’s efforts to prevent the continuing build up of marine waste at sea, the German magazine Spiegel Online has reported.

The “German government strategy paper” condemned international regulations as being completely “unsuccessful” in preventing the accumulation of marine waste and alluded to a “worsening ecological and economic problem” with “immense costs”, the magazine reported last week.

The strategy paper also gave little optimism as regards to future amendments to regulation and suggested that greater emphasis should be put towards investigating how new laws and regulations would be implemented.

A key concern surrounding marine waste is the feasibility of enforcing regulations designed to prevent the discharge of marine litter. In this, it is the merchant shipping and fishing sectors that are seen as key culprits in dodging legal obligations.

The German paper has proposed that instead of solely relying on international regulations to bring offenders into line, a more grassroots effort should be adopted.

Provisions of large garbage bags for fishermen to act as the oceans’ rubbish collectors and the access to recycling systems with garbage separation units on board vessels are two proposals the report’s authors have put forward. However, the report also sees the vital importance of deterrents and calls for stronger international penalties and controls.

TIME FOR CHANGE

The leak of the German report is a timely reminder to both the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the European Union, who are separately in the process of reviewing their existing legislation concerning marine waste.

Annex V of the IMO’s Marpol Convention, which encompasses the prevention of pollution by garbage from ships, has been under review since 2006 and this year sees further opportunities for the IMO to make amendments to outdated legislation.

Concurrently, the EU is reviewing Directive 2000/59/EC – concerned with port reception facilities and ship generated waste – thus making the coming year a critical period in the assembly of firm, internationally binding protective measures for the marine environment.

Seas At Risk is actively working towards the adoption of more stringent regulations at both the IMO and EU and will continue to do so throughout 2010.


Photograph by Tanya Barcella, Marine Photobank.


To view the full article at Spiegel Online

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