In view of the above and taking into account the relevant information that has been put forth in the literature, recommendations for improvement are made as follows:

• Development of a new international instrument to tackle the marine litter problem

Given that the scope of existing international law fails to match the scale and severity of the marine litter problem, Gold et al. (2013) urged the global community to develop a new multilateral agreement similar to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. A set of elements were proposed to be included in such an agreement, including regulation of disposal of plastic litter from both oceanand land-based sources, incorporating tracking, monitoring, reporting and enforcement standards and mechanisms, banning the most common or deleterious types of plastic litter, calling for a phase-out of all plastics that are not recycled at a rate of 75 % or higher by a certain date.

• Amending existing instruments to narrow exceptions and clarify enforcement standards Given the long time required to reach and implement a new agreement, Gold et al. (2013) recommended modifications to existing policy to eliminate some of the gaps. For example, amendment of the current vessel size and tonnage limitations in Annex V for requirements respecting placards, garbage management plans, and garbage record books is recommended so that fewer vessels are exempted.51 Macfadyen et al. (2009) suggested amending Annex V so as to provide specific guidance on reasonable accidental losses of fishing gear. Regarding the vague definition of the fee systems in the EU PRF Directive, Øhlenschlæger et al. (2013) recommended implementation of a 100 % indirect fee system52 for all European ports.

• Establishment of comprehensive national marine litter programmes Marine litter is a transboundary governance problem as it crosses scale, sectors and social divisions (Hastings and Potts 2013). To solve this problem, each state should develop a national marine litter programme (or a similar management scheme). This would constitute a high-level political commitment that could be a driver for relevant actions to be undertaken and ensure that marine litter issues are reflected in all policymaking. Such programmes have the potential to tackle the previously mentioned deficiencies. They should not only aim to reduce litter, but also quantify the sources of litter from land and ocean and promote a culture change with a view to consider “waste as a resource”. To ensure its effective implementation, such programmes should have clear objectives, develop an efficient and integrated regulatory and management system, implement a suit of actions related to monitoring and research, infrastructure, education, incentive schemes, and enforcement and compliance, and establish public-private partnership/community involvement. In particular, such programmes should focus on long-range land-based waste management plans that lead to full collection and disposal services since the management of solid wastes on land directly affects quantifies of marine litter (Liffmann et al. 1997).

• Enhancing participation and cooperation of states in international/regional initiatives The transboundary nature of marine litter underlines that the problem is global in scale and international in impact. In this regard, national measures alone are insuffi to control marine debris, and international/regional cooperation is required. An empirical long-term litter monitoring study in the Southern Ocean showed that ocean-based litter monitoring needs to be integrated at an international or regional level (Edyvane et al. 2004). A wide range of international/regional initiatives on marine litter (such as UNEP RSP, GPA and GPML and various regional sea instruments) have established a platform for concerned states to engage in cooperation; participation and cooperation should be enhanced and strengthened both in terms of the number of participating states and the substantiality of cooperation.

This would promote a dialogue among states on good practices in marine litter management and allow for substantial coordination and cooperation in research and developing and implementing more effective and practical management measures, such as the standardization of litter monitoring methods, the technologies for solid waste management, the waste notifi system and the fee system for ship-generated waste. Moreover, this would help less wealthy countries to advance solid waste and sewage management through technical and fi assistance and training provided by more experienced countries and international organizations (Liffmann et al. 1997).

• Strengthening management measures on fishing vessels

Although many studies suggest that fisheries are an important source of marine litter, most fishing vessels are exempt from the discharge regulations of Annex V of MARPOL 73/78 because of their low tonnage. In addition to the previous recommendations to amend Annex V to narrow exceptions, I propose two approaches based on the area where fishing vessels operate. For vessels, which work solely in national waters, management measures at national levels should be specifically devised and strengthened. For example, Murray and Cowie (2011) demonstrated the presence of plastic microfibres shed from fishing net protectors in the intestines of >80 % of the commercially harvested prawns, an issue that could be well addressed by gear regulations. Arthur et al. (2014) found that the number of crabs caught per derelict fishing trap per year ranged from 4 to 76 in selected US coastal waters. This issue could be addressed by designing traps (e.g. escape panels) that allow species to escape when traps become derelict, thus rendering derelict traps “non-fishing”. Kim et al. (2014) estimated that 11,500 t of traps and 38,500 t of gill-nets are abandoned annually in Korean waters and suggested incentive programmes for fishermen to use ecofriendly gear designs.

In addition, several measures could be adopted, including developing waste recycling practice among fishers, installing adequate PRFs, encouraging environmental education, promoting lost gear recovery, encouraging the use of environmentally friendly gear, promoting spatial management to reduce gear conflict and improving gear marking (Cho 2009; Macfadyen et al. 2009; Chen and Liu 2013; Gold et al. 2013; Arthur et al. 2014). Some of these measures may also apply to other types of small vessels (e.g. pleasure crafts), which are also exempt from Annex V.

For vessels operating on the high seas, numerous regional fi bodies (RFBs)53

have been established to manage and conserve fi resources based on geographical areas or fi species. They are generally established by coastal states and fi nations with a common interest in overcoming collective-action problems related to the management of transboundary stocks (Sydnes 2001). Many have management mechanisms in place to regulate fi activities, such as CCLAMR, International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, Western and Central Pacifi Fisheries Commission, Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, to name but a few. Taking advantage of the fully fl management mechanisms, RFBs could take further actions to integrate fi debris reduction into their wider management regime. To enable RFBs to adopt appropriate actions, it is advisable that the FAO, the lead organization of fi management and conservation, takes a lead in this initiative by providing guidance on effective and practical measures. In relation to this, some progress is being made to deal with derelict fi gear by proposing a list of recommendations in a UNEP/FAO Technical Paper. The recommendations include both international and national actions, including developing an action plan on adequacy of PRFs for fi waste, amending Annex V, and formulating a global action plan to address the waste of fi gear (Macfadyen et al. 2009). In addition, Gold et al. (2013) suggested that RFBs should adopt management standards to minimize the impacts of gear loss and move toward the replacement of plastic and synthetic gear with biodegradable nets and traps to minimize ghost fi and entanglement.


The problem of marine litter is complex, as it is rooted in our prevailing production and consumption patterns and the way we dispose of and manage waste. Tackling this problem necessitates the inclusion of a vast amount of activities, sectors and sources that cannot be addressed by a single measure. A global reduction of the production of plastic waste/products through extended producer responsibility should be at the heart of all management solutions as this would ultimately be refl in decreased inputs into our oceans. A variety of instruments at international, regional and national levels has been developed. In this chapter, the general mechanisms of instruments were analyzed and a number of them, including specifi management measures contained therein, were profi

as illustration. The measures on marine litter are either on a mandatory or voluntary basis. In addition, based on the principle purposes, management measures were broadly divided into four categories: preventive, mitigating, removing and behavior-changing. This chapter further identifi the potential gaps in existing frameworks and offered recommendations for improvement. The recommendations include establishment of a new international instrument targeted to the plastic marine litter problem, amending existing instruments to narrow exceptions and clarify enforcement standards, establishing comprehensive national marine litter programmes, enhancing participation and cooperation of states with regard to international/regional initiatives, and devising measures to prevent marine litter from fi vessels.

As with other environmental problems, marine litter could be prevented and controlled through an effective collaboration of education and outreach programmes, strong regulations and policies, effective enforcement, and adequate support infrastructure. Based on this perspective, I hope that the current regulatory and management framework, potential gaps identified and recommendations made, will contribute to better management of marine debris. Last but not least, it is envisaged that through the ongoing efforts to combat marine litter, a shared vision for “litter-free marine environments” would be realized among all of the various actors and stakeholders concerned.

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