Maritime News

Action plan to tackle plastic litter at sea

2 November 2018

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has launched an action plan to address the significant problem of plastics in the marine environment. The plan aims to enhance existing regulations, and introduce new supporting measures to reduce marine plastic litter from ships.

Dumping plastics into the sea is already prohibited under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), which also obliges governments to ensure adequate port facilities to receive ship waste, yet ships continue to discharge plastics into the sea. The IMO has now agreed actions to be completed by 2025 covering all ships, including fishing vessels. 

The action plan notes that both macroplastics (large plastic items, such as plastic bags, water bottles and fishing gear) and microplastics (small plastic particles, generally five millimetres or less in size) “persist in the marine environment and result in harmful effects on marine life and biodiversity, as well as negative impacts on human health”. This plastic material has the potential to be brought back into the economy through reuse or recycling. 

The action plan will include looking at the extent of marine plastic litter from ships, the availability and adequacy of port reception facilities, specific provisions related to fishing gear, and promoting seafarer awareness of the impact of marine plastic litter.


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