The impact of sea-based litter
The sources and impact of sea-based marine litter form the focus of a new report by the Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP), an advisory body to the United Nations sponsored by ten UN entities including IMO.
The report, which can be downloaded here, outlines the various sources of marine litter and the impact and assesses the current availability of data and identifies knowledge gaps for the main categories of sea-based sources of marine plastic litter. The Working Group was established by GESAMP. On the request of IMO, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The report stresses the urgent need to reduce marine litter. It outlines a number of ongoing initiatives and suggested steps to combat this issue, providing readers with practical information. It also highlights knowledge gaps and suggested areas for future academic and scientific research. Including on the impact of COVID-19 on ocean industries and livelihoods that result in marine litter.
Although very little quantification of sea-based sources of marine litter exists in the scientific. Peer-reviewed and grey literature (highlighted as an area for further research), the report looks at five main categories. These are:
Shipping and Boating
Dumping of waste and other matter at sea
Other ocean uses
The report concludes that sea-based activities do contribute to the global burden of marine litter, and that this does warrants concern. However, it is not possible to estimate the total contribute of sea-based sources and a concerted effort to updates global estimates is needed to fill these knowledge gaps, together with renewed efforts to reduce inputs of marine litter from all sources.
It is of note that this report does not examine the potential toxic effects of plastics on marine life, as this and other subjects are covered in detail in the reports produced by GESAMP Working Group 40 on Sources, Fate and Effects of Microplastics in the Marine Environment, see in particular its second report (GESAMP Reports and Studies No. 93, published in 2016.
This article is shared by courtesy of IMO – the International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine and atmospheric pollution by ships.
For more relevant maritime news.