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Letzte Änderung: 13.02.2013
Our oceans and seas are increasingly becoming a waste dump. Plastic waste is floating in high quantities on the seas surface before it sinks to the bottom or degrades into micro-plastics. Marine habitats and coastlines worldwide are contaminated with man-made litter which can pose environmental, economic, health and aesthetic problems. It is widely recognized that marine litter is a global problem which requires international cooperation and involvement of different stakeholders at all levels.
In June 2008, a framework for community action in the field of marine environmental policy (Marine Strategy Framework Directive - MSFD) has been published. The Directive’s ultimate objective is to achieve and/or maintain the good environmental status of the marine environment by 2020. GES has to be determined by means of 11 qualitative descriptors listed in Annex I of the Directive. One of them, descriptor 10 is on marine litter and reads as follows: Properties and quantities of marine litter do not cause harm to the coastal and marine environment”.
Member States have, in the meantime, taken various steps to implement the MSFD including an initial assessment about the actual state of their marine regions or subregions, the description of good environmental status (GES) for the qualitative descriptors and the determination of environmental targets to achieve good environmental status (Articles 8,9,10 of the MSFD). Next steps to be taken are the establishment of co-ordinated monitoring programmes in order to get informed on progress towards GES for their national marine waters and the identification of programmes of measures to reduce negative anthropogenic impacts on the marine environment in order to achieve or maintain GES. The input of wastes (focus is on plastics) is one of the main pressures to be reduced.
The UNEP YEAR BOOK 2011 considers plastic litter in the ocean and its ability to transport toxic substances which may end up in the food chain, causing potential harm to ecosystem and human health as a main emerging issue in our global environment. Litter pollution of the marine environment was also a main topic of the Rio +20 earth Summit and found its reflection in the final declaration of June 2012: “We further commit to take action to, by 2025, based on collected scientific data, achieve significant reductions in marine debris to prevent harm to the coastal and marine environment."
In this declaration also reference is made to the follow-up of relevant initiatives and the adoption of coordinated strategies. The Honolulu Strategy developed on the occasion of the 5th International Marine Debris Conference, organized by UNEP and USA NOAA is an important step on global scale.
The European Commission, DG ENV organized in Brussels on 8 November 2010 a workshop "Marine litter: Plastic soup and more", in which over 120 representatives of a range of stakeholders participated. The participants concluded that an (annual) high level gathering could facilitate the coordination and cooperation between the different stakeholders. Upon the initiative of Commissioner Potočnik, the European Commission, DG ENV is discussing since September 2011 with relevant stakeholders, in and outside the EU, the possible set-up of such a meeting.
At the meeting of the Marine Directors in December 2011 Germany offered to organize an international marine litter conference to address the need to develop regional action plans.
In 2012 the German Environment Minister published a 10-point-programme where special emphasis has been laid on the protection of the world`s oceans. The Federal Environment Agency (UBA), is strongly engaged in this topic on national, regional and European level – e.g. as co-lead of the Technical Working Group “Marine Litter” and the corresponding OSPAR and HELCOM work.
For these reasons Germany and the European Commission joint forces to organize an International conference on prevention and management of marine litter in European seas. The conference will be open to a maximum of 200 attendees. Public sector invitees include representatives from Member States, from Regional Seas Conventions, EC representatives and local authorities. Invitations will also be sent to stakeholders, e.g. private sector associations of plastic producers, converters, recyclers, packaging industry, retailers, ferry ships, cruise ships, fisherman, port authorities as well as consumer organisations, environmental NGO’s and research institutes. The conference takes place in the premises of the “ABION Spreebogen Waterside Hotel”.
Current knowledge allows and necessitates the elaboration of national, regional and global action plans to reduce and avoid marine litter. The main aim of this European Marine Litter conference is starting filling in the obligation of Rio+20 through the facilitation and stimulation of cooperation between different stakeholders in order to stimulate the development of regional action plans. The conference will be the European contribution to the Honolulu strategy as the global approach on what possible measures and actions to take in order to tackle the problem. A secondary objective is to bring existing and planned marine litter initiatives to the attention of a wider audience, including politicians. The event will support the information exchange amongst Member States and a coherent implementation of the MSFD on European level in order to combat litter pollution of marine waters. Focus will be laid on the identification and implementation of programs of measures in 2015/2016 by MS as required for the further implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).
Details regarding registration, accommodation and organization as well as background info and the draft conference programme can be found on the specific conference webpage: