Source: Union for the Mediterranean
The overall goal of the project is to effectively tackle the issue of marine litter in the Mediterranean. The project directly supports the implementation of the UNEP/MAP Regional Plan on Marine Litter Management in the Mediterranean, linking and contributing also to the global Honolulu Strategy framework for prevention and management of Marine Debris. The project is also in line with the recommendations of the UfM Ministerial Meeting on Environment and Climate Change (May 2014) and the UfM Ministerial on Blue Economy (November 2015).ECNC Land and Sea Group is one of the partners of this large initiative.
Marine litter has become a major pollution problem affecting all of the world seas. Increased levels of marine litter originate largely from land based activities (~80%). This includes, in particular, inadequate urban solid waste management (collection, transportation, treatment and final disposal) negative impacts on human health, marine wildlife, marine ecological systems, beach quality, and navigational safety as well as fishing and maritime industries.
According to the European Environmental Agency (EEA), the average amount of municipal solid waste produced in the EU is 520 kg per person/year and is projected to increase to 680 kg per person/year by 2020. While solid waste generated in non‐EU Mediterranean countries is still approximately half the per capita level in the EU, waste generation in the southern Mediterranean region has grown approximately 15 % over the last decade; mostly due to a growing population and increased consumption.
Sound, shared scientific knowledge and coordinated and multi‐sectoral actions are therefore key in combating marine litter.
With a total budget of 8,8 M Euros over a 4-year period, the project will enable to assess the amount, sources, pathways, distribution convergence areas and effects of marine litter to better mitigate and reduce the impact of marine litter in the Mediterranean Sea. The nature and effects of plastic litter on the marine food chain, fisheries and fishing activities, as well as human health are still largely unknown and are important issues investigated within this project.
A series of concrete prevention and mitigation actions and approaches (e.g. fishing for litter; removal and collection of derelict fishing gear and establishing recycling mechanisms e.g. “Healthy Seas initiative”; establish return/deposit systems for packaging, etc.) are intended to be developed, tested and promoted during the project in several pilot areas in the Mediterranean basin. Following a ‘’life cycle thinking’’ and a circular economy approach, the project will also carry out a systemic evaluations of the feasibility, reliability and sustainability while involving relevant stakeholders such as port authorities, fishermen and municipalities.
The project further foresees a wide range of actions to enhance the awareness of stakeholders and promote change in their perceptions and attitudes towards waste.
The label delivered by the UfM is the recognition of the urgency to join forces towards a shared and coordinated regional approach to provide regional actions and solutions to this common problem. As underlined by the Barcelona Convention within the Regional Plan for Marine Litter (Istanbul 2013) “Marine pollution knows no border, pollution in one country affects all the others”.
Ministers in charge of maritime affairs from the 43 countries of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) have committed to closer cooperation on blue economy and maritime governance two weeks before the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP 21 in Paris. The launch of this new Blue Economy initiative falls within the framework of the global UfM sustainable development strategy, which entails activities in the fields of energy, climate change, urban development and water and environment. Gathered in Brussels on the occasion of the first UfM Ministerial Conference on Blue Economy, participants stressed the need for the Mediterranean region to make the best use of the potential of the blue economy to promote growth, jobs and investments and reduce poverty. They noted that clean and healthy seas are drivers and enablers for national and regional economies and advocated building a clear vision for the sustainable and integrated development of marine and maritime sectors at national and sea basin levels.