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Problem of Marine Litter

Marine litter currently poses a growing threat to the marine and coastal environment. Most marine litter consists of material that degrades slowly, if at all, so a continuous input of large quantities of these items results in a gradual build-up in the marine and coastal environment. This negative trend has been confirmed by a number of studies, clearly indicating that the situation with regard to marine litter is continuously getting worse. Littering practices from the shipping sector, as well as lack of land-based infrastructure to receive litter, combined with a lack of awareness among main stakeholders and the general public, are other major reasons that the marine litter problem appears to increase worldwide.

A wide range of marine litter-related instruments already exist and actions are being taken at the global and regional levels. Nationally, a number of countries have taken comprehensive action to address the marine litter issues through legislation, enforcement of international agreements, providing reception facilities for ship-generated wastes, improving their waste management practices and supporting extensive beach-clean up activities, as well as information, education and public awareness programmes. Thus, much is already being done, but as the threat grows rather than diminishes, it is clear that much more remains to be done.