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THIRTY countries have signed onto the GloLitter Partnerships Project, which aims to reduce marine plastic litter in the world’s oceans.

The project is implemented by the International Maritime Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), with initial funding from the Government of Norway via the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad).

The project will assist developing countries to apply best practices for prevention, reduction and control of marine plastic litter from those sectors. 

Plastic litter has devastating effects on our oceans, marine life and human health. It also has measurable impacts on the fishing and shipping industries.

Lost containers might also pose a collision hazard for ships. Reducing and preventing marine plastic litter is vital to safeguard coastal and global marine resources.

Discarded fishing gear can pose a serious risk to fishers as the nets or lines can become entangled in boat propellers or cause engine damage. There is also an economic impact when fishers or fisheries lose their gear or fish species are caught in discarded gear.

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IMO Department for Partnerships and Projects chief Jose Matheickal welcomed the 30 countries on board.

“Marine litter is a scourge on the oceans and on the planet. I am delighted that we have 30 countries committed to joining this initiative and working with IMO and FAO to address this growing issue. Their experience and the development of best practices will serve as a model throughout the world and I look forward to seeing results as the project moves ahead,” Mr Matheickal said. 

“Plastic litter has a devastating impact on marine life and human health,” said Manuel Barange, FAO’s Director of Fisheries and Aquaculture.  “This initiative is an important step in tackling the issue and will help protect the ecosystem as well as the livelihoods of those who depend on the ocean.”

Lead and partnering countries

Ten countries have been confirmed as lead partnering countries (LPCs) and a further twenty countries have been selected as partnering countries (PCs).

LPCs will take lead roles in their respective regions to champion national actions in the context of supporting the IMO Action Plan on Marine Litter and the FAO Voluntary Guidelines for the Marking of Fishing Gear. The LPCs and PCs will work together, via a twinning working arrangement, to build regional support for the project.

The 10 LPCs are: Brazil, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria and Vanuatu.

The 20 PCs are: Argentina, Cabo Verde, Columbia, Ecuador, Gambia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Solomon Islands, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga and Viet Nam.

Tangible global action

In the coming months, the Project Coordination Units at IMO and FAO will work with LPCs to develop National Work Plans tailored to the needs of each country, provide necessary technical assistance and training to implement those plans, and facilitate twinning arrangements between LPCs and PCs. 

The GloLitter Project will equip the partner countries with knowledge and tools that will include guidance documents, training material and methodologies to help enforce existing regulations. These include IMO’s International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex V regulations on the prevention of pollution by garbage, which prohibits the discharge of plastics (including fishing gear) into the sea from ships. Another treaty regime, the IMO London Convention/London Protocol, regulates the dumping of wastes from ships, permitting only certain types of non-harmful waste to be dumped.

The project will also promote compliance with relevant FAO instruments, including the Voluntary Guidelines for the Marking of Fishing Gear, and enhance existing initiatives, such as the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI).

The project will also look at the availability and adequacy port reception facilities and their connectivity to national waste management systems and develop a “model port waste management plan” including the concept of the circular economy, to be piloted by selected ports from participating countries. 

The project will address how to deal with abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear. There will be pilot initiatives with women-led organizations active in fisheries to reduce the use of plastic in fisheries, fish processing/marketing, and to collect plastic for recycling.

The project will facilitate the establishment of public-private partnerships to spur the development of cost-effective management solutions for marine plastic litter, including examining how to decrease the use of plastics in these industries and looking at opportunities to re-use and recycle plastics.

This work to reduce plastic litter is in line with IMO’s Action Plan to address marine plastic litter from ships. 

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