Press Release: Addressing marine plastic litter from ships – action plan adopted

PRESS RELEASE: The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has pledged to address the significant problem posed by plastics to the marine environment, with the adoption of an action plan which aims to enhance existing regulations and introduce new supporting measures to reduce marine plastic litter from ships.

IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) adopted (on 26 October) the action plan, to contribute to the global solution for preventing marine plastic litter entering the oceans through ship based activities.

Dumping plastics into the sea is already prohibited under regulations for the prevention of pollution by garbage from ships in the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), which also oblige governments to ensure adequate port reception facilities to receive ship waste. Under the London Convention and Protocol on the dumping of wastes at sea, only permitted materials can be dumped and this waste – such as from dredging – has to be fully assessed to ensure it does not contain harmful materials like plastics.

Recognizing that more needs to be done to address the environmental and health problems posed by marine plastic litter, IMO Member States meeting in the MEPC agreed actions to be completed by 2025, which relate to all ships, including fishing vessels. The action plan supports IMO’s commitment to meeting the targets set in the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14) on the oceans.

Marine plastic litter can also pose dangers to shipping. For example, abandoned or lost fishing nets can become entangled in propellers and rudders.

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