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Will EU Ministers Set Ambitious Marine Litter Reduction Targets?

Jul. 11/12

Project AWARE together with other NGOs leading the fight against marine litter is calling on European countries to set a 50% reduction target in marine litter.

We are urging EU Member States to commit to targets that will have a real effect on litter levels in our seas. Marine litter burdens the coastal communities and undermines the benefits that maritime industries such as scuba diving and tourism can bring to these communities

Ania Budziak, Project AWARE Policy Associate Director

As part of a requirement to comply with the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) - a legislative initiative that uses an ecosystem approach to improve the management of human activities that affect marine environment including marine litter -  European Union (EU) member states are required to finalise their marine environmental targets for 2020 by 15th July 2012.

In our open letter sent to all 27 EU Environment Ministers, 30 NGOs have highlighted the importance of setting ambitious targets in reducing marine litter. With weak targets, weak measures are likely; with ambitious targets, ambitious measures become more likely. We are urging EU Member States to:

- Lead the battle against marine debris

- Cut marine litter by half by 2020

- Put in place measures to mitigate marine litter and  litter monitoring programmes

- Liaise not only with national experts but with other EU member states to ensure a coordinated approach. Marine litter knows no boundaries so only a coordinated response can solve the problem in each country’s marine waters.

Marine DebrisLarge marine debris reduction targets will not be easy to achieve but they are desperately needed and they are feasible. Significant reductions have been achieved in the past in some areas, such as, in the 1990s, 50% reduction in the amount of plastic pellets found. Such reductions can, and must be, expanded but political will, cooperation among member states and long-term commitments are needed.

”We are urging EU Member States to commit to targets that will have a real effect on litter levels in our seas. We are not doing so only for the sake of marine life but also to reduce the economic and social costs of marine litter that burden the coastal communities and undermine the benefits that maritime industries such as scuba diving and tourism can bring to these communities” commented Ania Budziak.

Divers play a unique role in combating the debris problem. Only divers are removing debris underwater and we are the only ones that can contribute the critically needed underwater marine debris data on the scale its needed to show underwater impacts and devise solutions. Please keep Diving Against Debris as we push for effective measures to tackle the debris problem in our communities, large and small.

Photo courtesy of Najada Diving, Croatia and Simon Bell, Spain