Athens, 23 July 2014 - The measures and timetables of the Regional Plan on Marine Litter Management in the Mediterranean, adopted by the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention and its Protocol for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities (LBS) in December 2013, became binding on 8 July 2014.
The Regional Plan addresses the complex challenges posed in the Mediterranean region by marine litter, a global issue dramatically affecting marine and coastal environment.
The problem of marine litter is rooted in current prevailing production and consumption patterns and originates from land- and sea-based activities. Land-based marine litter in the Mediterranean results mainly from recreational and tourism activities, and household waste. Meanwhile, important knowledge gaps have been identified with regard to marine litter generated from sea-based sources in the region.
With this Plan, the Mediterranean region is pioneering the adoption of legally binding measures on marine litter. Out of nine regional plans already adopted within the framework of the LBS Protocol, the Regional Plan on Marine Litter Management in the Mediterranean is the first to be fully based on the Ecosystem Approach principles to achieve Good Environment Status.
The entry into force of the Plan coincides with the update of National Action Plans (NAPs) to combat pollution from land based sources and activities.
“With this Regional Plan now entering into force, Mediterranean countries will be able to elaborate national policies and action plans on pollution control and prevention that will contribute to addressing one of the most difficult environmental issues in the Mediterranean sea”, said Gaetano Leone, Coordinator of the United Nations Environment Programme/Mediterranean Action Plan. “The impacts of marine litter are not only environmental, but also economic, health- and safety-related, and cultural. The Regional Plan creates the momentum for Contracting Parties of the Barcelona Convention to look at marine and coastal pollution in an integrated manner” he added.
The timetable for the implementation of the Regional Plan measures is between 2016 and 2025, with most of the measures to be implemented by 2020.
Regardless of its size, marine litter refers to any persistent, manufactured or processed solid material discarded, disposed of or abandoned in the marine and coastal environment.
Plastics, floating, on beaches, and on the sea floor, make up to 83.0% of the land-based marine litter in the Mediterranean in addition to textiles, paper, metal and wood (17%). Moreover, marine litter from smoking related activities in the Mediterranean is much higher than the global average.