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IMO eyes tougher measures to reduce marine plastic litter from ships

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The International Maritime Organization (IMO)
has adopted an action plan which aims to enhance existing regulations and
introduce new supporting measures to reduce marine plastic litter from
ships.

The action plan stipulates actions to be
completed by 2025, which relate to all ships, including fishing
vessels. The concrete measures and details will be further considered by
MEPC 74.
The reduction measures being targeted on
behalf of the shipping industry’s include a review of the application of
placards, garbage management plans and garbage record-keeping in MARPOL Annex
V. It is also being proposed to establish compulsory mechanism to declare loss
of containers and identify number of losses; and consider ways to communicate
location of containers lost overboard.
Dumping plastics into the sea is already
prohibited under regulations for the prevention of pollution by garbage from
ships in the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from
Ships (MARPOL), which also oblige governments to
ensure adequate port reception facilities to receive ship waste.
Only permitted materials can be dumped and
this waste – such as from dredging – has to be fully assessed to ensure it
does not contain harmful materials like plastics.
However, studies demonstrate that despite the
existing regulatory framework to prevent marine plastic litter from ships,
discharges into the sea continue to occur. Marine litter has a substantial
harmful effect on the marine life and it can also pose dangers to
shipping.
For example, abandoned or lost fishing nets
can become entangled in propellers and rudders.
Specific identified measures in the action
plan also include:
  • a proposed study on
    marine plastic litter from ships;
  • looking into the
    availability and adequacy of port reception facilities;
  • consideration of
    making marking of fishing gear mandatory, in cooperation with the Food and
    Agriculture Organization (FAO);
  • promoting reporting
    the loss of fishing gear;
  • facilitating the
    delivery of retrieved fishing gear to shore facilities;
  • reviewing provisions
    related to the training of fishing vessel personnel and familiarization of
    seafarers to ensure awareness of the impact of marine plastic litter;
  • enhancing public
    awareness; and
  • strengthening
    international cooperation, in particular FAO and UN Environment.
 World Maritime News

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