Developing partnerships to tackle Marine Litter in the Mediterranean

The Biodiversity protection community featured by the co-funded Interreg Med project PANAceA, is calling out all interested parties to join forces in the fight against marine litter, and to help reduce the impacts the invasion of plastics has on the Mediterranean environment and its ecosystems.

Now one of the most alarming topics related to ocean and seas protection issues, marine litter is a new field of study where many knowledge gaps need to be filled. The MED Biodiversity Protection Community is starting to tackle this issue, either through the actions conducted by its monitored modular projects ACT4LITTER, MedSeaLitter, AMARE and at ad hoc events where experts, researchers, policy-makers and other concerned parties can progress together on reflecting on potential solutions.

On the occasion of the Conference on Blue Economy (BE) in the Mediterranean organised by the Union for the Mediterranean on 29-30 November 2017 in Naples – Campania (Italy), the Biodiversity protection community held a specific workshop on Marine Litter, with the contribution of IEO (Spain) and UNEP-MAP. This Marine Litter workshop conclusions underlined the urgent need to fill in the gap of knowledge on micro-litter effects on the biodiversity and thus on the health of all living beings consuming seafood and fish.

Marine Litter monitoring protocols are being developed within projects such as MedSeaLitter and PlasticsBusters. A coherent and common effort shall be implemented at the transboundary level. The Biodiversity protection community is working on recommendations towards achieving transferability, and will progressively offer through its platform the required information, collecting scientific evidence, underpinning information and regional indicators on marine litter.

 

MPAs management and practice are also key elements to enhance in order to reduce marine litter. A need for common legal frameworks and infrastructure solutions is clear for generating an appropriate regional action in the Mediterranean. In this perspective, actions and measures are under development within the ACT4Litter project.

 

Reducing plastics at the source of production is also a key factor. Finding innovative ways to avoid using plastics or modifying packaging is a change to be promoted. In that sense, changing the legislative and economic system to support green entrepreneurship is an essential step to reduce litter at the source.

 

A better coordination among institutions leading Marine Litter initiatives will enable the integration of results and provide coherent and evidence-based recommendations for policy-makers. The active involvement of the public authorities and institutions, the private sector and the final consumers is, however, essential.

 

The working group on Protected area management led by ETC-UMA and REC Montenegro with the support of IUCN WCPA is tackling the Marine Litter challenges through several activities such as the last summer MED Webinar on Marine Litter. The last Community building workshop of the Biodiversity protection community in Barcelona, 24th October, was the occasion to prepare future actions. To learn more about actions and measures undertaken by the MED Biodiversity Protection Community projects, follow the activities of
ACT4LITTER, MedSeaLitter, and AMARE.