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Proper waste management is increasingly being recognized by the international community as an important issue and to be addressed worldwide. It was identified as one of the nine source categories of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA), 1995, and recognized as a priority issue in a decision of UNEP’s Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment meeting in Jeju, Republic of Korea, in March 2004. The issue of marine litter and the destructive effects of abandoned fishing gear were further emphasized in resolution 59/25 of the UN General Assembly on 17 November 2004 on Oceans and the Law of the Sea – Sustainable Fisheries. Furthermore, decision 59/22 of 10 November 2004 on Oceans and the Law of the sea recommends that marine debris should be included in the discussions of the United Nations Consultative Process on the Law of the Sea (UNICPOLOS) as well as in the 2004 Secretary General’s Report.

The UN General Assembly addressed the issue of marine litter/debris in November 2005 and the UN General Assembly Resolution A/60/L.22 - Oceans and the Law of the Sea - on 29 November 2005.

Following the resolution, a series of consultations were held with and in co-operation with UN Agencies, such as IMO); IOC of UNESCO; Secretariat of the Basel Convention; and FAO. Internal consultations and plans for co-operation were also held with the GPA and the Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (DTIE) and the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP). It was recommended that UNEP should take a lead in developing global and regional activities, in co-operation with other agencies.

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