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OSPAR Meeting Took Important Step to Decrease Marine Litter

NORTH EAST ATLANTIC, Gothenburg, Sweden—An agreement to develop an action plan toward reducing marine litter in the North East Atlantic was reached between the EU and the 15 member states of the OSPAR Commission in June.

By 2014, OSPAR hopes to have its action plan for the reduction of marine litter in the North East Atlantic developed. Photo: Maja Kristin Nylander/SwAM.

Each year, 6.4 million metric tons of garbage are dumped into the world’s oceans according to the American Academy of Sciences. In the North Sea alone, over 20,000 metric tons of garbage—that’s 220,000 cubic meters—are dumped yearly.

OSPAR, or the Oslo-Paris Convention, aims to protect the environment in the North East Atlantic. On June 24, its highest decision-making body, the OSPAR Commission, gathered for a five-day meeting in Gothenburg located on Sweden’s west coast.

“Litter causes suffering for marine mammals, birds, and fish as well as livestock that graze along the coast. It’s also expensive to clean up our coastlines,” says Schmidtbauer Crona, an analyst for the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management which took an active part in hosting the meeting.

“Regarding marine litter, cooperation between countries is needed. This makes the OSPAR Commission’s decision on a joint action plan an important step for finding solutions that work.”

The meeting brought together some 70 representatives from 15 governments, the EU, and several international organizations.

About 15% of the debris dumped into oceans washes up on beaches, another 15% stays afloat, and the remaining 70% sinks to the seabed.

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Published: 2013-12-03

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