Western Indian Ocean Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter

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Countries in the Western Indian Ocean are endowed with coastal and marine ecosystems rich in biodiversity and luxuriant resources that are important to the wellbeing of their people. However, these resources are under pressure from a variety of natural and man-made factors, including; resource overexploitation, pollution, unplanned coastal development and climate change. Marine litter is becoming a significant contributor to marine pollution in the World Oceans and Western Indian Ocean (WIO), is not exempt. Over 80% of marine pollution that constitute marine litter
and microplastics is from land-based sources, largely associated with the increasing use of synthetic materials, industrialization and urbanization of coastal areas, where disposal and waste management practices are inadequate.

Many types of marine litter particularly plastics persist for hundreds of years and are tvery damaging to the marine environment. They have a wide range of adverse impacts to coastal and marine ecosystems. It is a complex, multi-dimensional, problem that warrants urgent and effective joint measures to be put in place. In recognition of the problems caused by marine litter, the United Nations General Assembly, in its 60th Session of 2005 called for the national, regional and global actions to address the matter. As a response to the UN call, the UN Environment commissioned the first study on regional overview and assessment of marine litter in WIO region in 2007. According to the report, sparse data exist on the types, quantities, sources, distribution and the magnitude of impacts of marine litter, with the exception of South Africa. The assessment report served as a stepping stone towards development of this WIO Region Marine Litter Action Plan.

This regional action plan is prepared in response to UNEA Resolutions 1/6, 2/11 and 3/20 in an effort to address the problem of marine litter in a collaborative manner among the contracting parties to the Nairobi Convention. The plan is aimed at:

  • setting standards for contracting parties on the agreed commitments into action for improvement of the quality of marine and coastal environment;
  • supporting future implementation of the LBSA Protocol; and supporting achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 14, especially target 14.1 that seeks to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds by 2025, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution.

The proposed actions focus on five broad areas:

  1. Institutions and Stakeholders’ Engagement;
  2. Policy and Legal Frameworks;
  3. Operations for Removal and Prevention of Marine litter;
  4. Education and Outreach;
  5. Monitoring, Research and Reporting advocating exchange and sharing of experiences, lessons and best practices in managing marine litter.

Download the WIO Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter below.

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