Plastics from shipping pose dangers to marine life and human health (Image: Matthew Chauvin, The Ocean Cleanup)
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted a new action plan to help significantly reduce the volume of plastic litter that enters the oceans through ship-based activities.
Formally implemented by the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) on 26 October 2018, the new action plan aims to address the impact of macroplastics (large items such as bags, water bottles and fishing gear) and microplastics (small plastic particles less than five millimetres in size) on marine life, biodiversity, human health, fishing, tourism and more.
The plan, which supports the targets set in the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goal 14, enhances existing regulations and introduces new supporting measures to reduce marine plastic litter. It will also cover ways to ensure that the materials permitted to be dumped at sea under the London Convention and Protocol do not contain harmful materials like plastics.
Some of the key measures include conducting a study on marine plastic litter from ships; reviewing the availability and adequacy facilities for treating or recycling plastic at ports; and strengthening cooperation between relevant international organisations. In addition, the IMO will introduce measures to enhance public awareness about the problems caused by marine litter; educate and train seafarers (including fishermen) on marine environment awareness; and encourage IMO Member States and international organisations to share findings from research into marine litter and contaminated areas around the world. Find more detailed information on the IMO’s proposed actions here.
The concrete measures and details will be further considered by MEPC 74 and all agreed actions are expected to be completed by 2025.
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