Types of Management Measures to Combat Marine Litter

It should be noted that the preceding description of international, regional and national instruments tackling marine litter presents a representative snapshot of a wide range of relevant instruments, rather than an exhaustive list. While such representative information is not complete, it shows that a basic framework for addressing marine litter is in place (Fig. 15.2) and provides an overall picture of the current management measures. Based on their principle purposes, the measures can be divided into four categories: preventive, mitigating, removing and behavior-changing (Table 15.2).

Preventive Measures

Preventive measures focus on avoiding the generation of debris, or preventing debris from entering the sea. Measures of this type include source reduction, waste reuse and recycling, waste conversion to energy,42 portreception facilities, gear marking, debris contained at points of entry into receiving waters and various waste management initiatives on land. Product modification and improvement (e.g. through eco design) is an important method for source reduction. A variety of

International instruments


Annex V of MARPOL 73/78 London Protocol

IMO's Action Plan on tacking the inadequacy of PRFs UNEP Regional Sea Programme

UNEP/IOC Guidelines on surveying and monitoring of marine litter UNEP Guidelines on the use of market-based and economic instruments

UNEP/FAO Abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear Honolulu Strategy

UNEP Global Partnership of Marine Litter

Four types of management measures

Preventive (i.e. source reduction, waste reuse and recycle, PRFs, gear marking, debris contained at points of entry into receiving waters, various land-based waste management initiatives)

Mitigating (litter disposal and dumping regulations) Removing (clean-up actions, debris monitoring, fishing gear retrieval programs)

Behaviour-changing (education campaigns, economic/incentive tools)

Regional instruments

EU PRF Directive, Marine Strategy Framework Directive, legislations relevant to land waste management

Helsinki Convention, Baltic Strategy Barcelona Convention

OSPAR Guideline for monitoring marine litter on the beaches in the OSPAR Maritime Area, OSPAR Fishing for Litter

CCAMLR Marine Debris Program

National instruments

US Marine Debris Program, Marine Plastic Pollution Research and Control Act

South Korea's coastal cleanup and fishing gear buyback programmes

UK legislations on garbage from ships and PRFs, beach clean-up and awareness campaigns

Taiwan's Marine Pollution Control Act, plastic restriction policy and compulsory garbage sorting policy

Fig. 15.2 The regulatory and management framework of marine litter

Table 15.2 Management schemes addressing marine litter


Examples of measures


Source reduction (e.g. eco design), waste reuse and recycling, waste converted to energy, port reception facilities, gear marking, debris contained at points of entry into receiving waters, various land-based waste management initiatives


Various debris disposal and dumping regulations, i.e. waste discharged outside certain distances from land, wastes not containing harmful substances to the marine environment allowed for discharge, prohibition of waste discharge into ecologically sensitive areas, prohibition of the disposal of certain types of garbage into seas


Beach and seafloor cleanup activities, derelict fishing gear retrieval programs, marine debris monitoring


Educational campaigns, economic/incentive tools

source reduction schemes are available, such as designing packaging such that the product can be refilled (e.g. shampoo bottles), maintaining and repairing durable products (e.g. bicycles), developing more concentrated products (e.g. laundry detergent) and electric messaging (Vaughn 2009). Other methods include the development of packaging material that is made from sustainable resources, the design of push-tap opening of metal beverage cans43 and the design of lids of beverage bottles or containers attached to bottles with a leash (Gold et al. 2013). Restriction of the use of plastic bags is one of such measures, which is significant in the reduction of plastic waste. Bangladesh was the first nation to outlaw polythene bags in 2002 followed by Myanmar, China and a number of African countries including Eritrea, Mali, Mauritania, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. What is more, the production of plastic bags has become a criminal offence in Mauritania, Mali, Somalia and Rwanda, which even searches the luggage of visitors upon arrival at its airports.

Based on the hierarchy of waste management, the strategies of preventing wastes from being formed in the first place is of paramount importance as are recycling, resource recovery and waste-to-energy approaches as less waste is generated and relatively low risks and costs are associated with waste management, compared to other strategies such as treatment and disposal (Cheremisinoff 2003). In this regard, extended producer responsibility (EPR) should be well established since it is a strategy to prevent wastes at source, promote product design for the environment and support the achievement of public recycling and materials management goals (OECD 2001) (see also Newman et al. 2015). Currently, consumers often do not have a chance to select a more environmentally friendly packaged/ produced good as they are all packaged/manufactured with plastics. With EPR established, producers accept significant responsibility for the treatment or disposal of post-consumer products. It may take the form of a reuse, buy-back, or recycling program. The EU Waste Framework Directive establishes EPR and describes drivers for sustainable production taking into account the full life cycle of products (EU 2013). This directive encourages member states to take legislative or non-legislative measures in order to strengthen re-use and the prevention, recycling and other recovery operations of waste.

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