Marine Litter: A Global Challenge (2009)
Marine litter is an ecological, economic, health and aesthetic problem. It is a complex and multi-dimensional challenge with significant implications for the marine and coastal environment, and human activities all over the world. The persistence of marine litter is the result of a lack of coordinated global and regional strategies, and deficiencies in the implementation and enforcement of existing programmes, regulations and standards at all levels – international, regional and national.
The UNEP Global Initiative on Marine Litter provides a platform for the management of marine litter through the establishment of partnerships, cooperative arrangements and coordination of joint activities. It has succeeded in organizing and implementing regional activities on marine litter around the world. In addition to activities in 12 Regional Seas, UNEP commissioned preparation of several documents on specific topics, including UNEP/IOC Guidelines for monitoring of marine litter; Abandoned and lost fishing gear; and Marine litter and market-based instruments.
This report provides an overview of the status of marine litter in UNEP's assisted Regional Seas, and highlights the amounts, main sources, impacts, and economics of marine litter, and discusses legislation, policies, compliance and enforcement mechanisms; institutional frameworks and stakeholder involvement; education and outreach strategies; monitoring programmes and research; mitigation activities among other aspects.
It concludes that there is an urgent need to approach the issue of marine litter through better enforcement of laws and regulations, expanded outreach and educational campaigns and the employment of strong economic instruments and incentives. It proposes some general recommendations, based on the materials presented in the document, and specific recommendations for fourteen different issues regarding marine litter.