OSPAR today adopted its long-awaited Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter, designed to promote concerted action to reduce marine litter in the NE Atlantic. Seas At Risk regrets that the plan fails to set quantifiable reduction targets or to provide strong solutions to counter this increasingly worrying problem.

OSPAR today adopted its long-awaited Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter, designed to promote concerted action to reduce marine litter in the NE Atlantic. Seas At Risk regrets that the plan fails to set quantifiable reduction targets or to provide strong solutions to counter this increasingly worrying problem.

The Regional Action Plan (RAP) aims to support global efforts to significantly reduce marine debris by 2025 as agreed at the Rio+20 Conference in 2012. It provides a regional contribution to the European Union’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive. The plan also encourages international organisations, the private sector and NGOs to cooperate in its implementation.

The RAP includes measures to reduce litter from both land- and sea-based sources, measures to remove litter from the sea (e.g. ‘fishing for litter’ schemes) and education, monitoring and assessment activities.

Monica Verbeek, Executive Director at Seas At Risk, said: “It is good to see this much-needed regional coordination tackling marine litter finally taking shape. However, governments failed to agree on measurable reduction targets; the plan merely calls for their development. In our view such targets could and should already now have been at its core.”

What started more than a year ago as an ambitious draft plan has been significantly watered down. The measures for tackling waste from shipping are particularly unambitious. While the plan aims to provide regional coordination of the operation of Port Reception Facilities (PRF), it misses an important opportunity to set a strong cost recovery system, such as the 100% indirect fee system Seas At Risk has long advocated. With the PRF Directive currently under revision, a stronger OSPAR initiative could have given the process a much needed momentum.

The actions to tackle land-based sources include improved waste prevention and management, reduction of sewage and storm related waste, development of sustainable packaging and zero plastic pellet loss, among others.
More information
‘OSPAR commits to reducing marine litter and protecting vulnerable species and habitats in the North-East Atlantic’, 27 July 2014

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