European policymakers, scientists and representatives from industry and civil society from across Europe and beyond have met to discuss how to tackle the problem of marine litter (also known as marine debris) in Europe’s seas. The International Conference on Prevention and Management of Marine Litter in European Seas, held last week in Berlin, was organised by the European Commission and the German Federal Environment Agency. Its aim was to share information across borders, identify common goals and initiate joint actions. Read more…
The conference focused on an issue paper, which reviewed existing scientific knowledge about marine litter and its impacts, highlighted best practice in waste reduction and suggested targets at regional level. Participants emphasised that a number of key principles should guide action to address marine debris. These include not postponing action in the light of scientific uncertainty because enough evidence already exists to develop priorities and targets, those causing the pollution should bear the resulting costs, and waste prevention is more cost-effective and efficient than cleaning up marine litter.
The conference called for a number of priority actions to achieve the goal of reaching Good Environmental Status for Europe's regional seas. These include fully implementing relevant EU legislation and addressing the problem of plastics waste as part of the planned review of EU waste policy. The conference also emphasised the need to develop an integrated waste management infrastructure that supports supports waste prevention, collection, recycling and energy recovery, and applying the waste hierarchy.
Participants called for active promotion of the green economy to stimulate sustainable consumption and production through increased resource efficiency, including improving life-cycle design, developing high-quality recycling and sustainable packaging, and encouraging environmentally responsible fishing and maritime transport practices. The results of the conference, together with the issue paper, will be brought to the attention of the Marine and Water Directors of the EU Member States at their meeting in Ireland in May 2013.
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