Regional Action Plan

OSPAR actions to reduce marine litter

The OSPAR objective with regard to marine litter is “to substantially reduce marine litter in the OSPAR maritime area to levels where properties and quantities do not cause harm to the marine environment” by 2020. In order to achieve this objective the North East Atlantic Environment Strategy also commits to “develop appropriate programmes and measures to reduce amounts of litter in the marine environment and to stop litter entering the marine environment, both from sea-based and land-based sources”.

Regional Action Plan

To fulfil this objective OSPAR 2014 agreed a Regional Action Plan (RAP) for Marine Litter for the period 2014-2021. The RAP contains 55 collective and national actions which aim to address both land based and sea based sources, as well as education and outreach and removal actions. The key action areas addressed in the RAP include:

  • Port Reception Facilities
  • Waste from fishing industry
  • Fines for littering at sea
  • Fishing for litter
  • Abandoned and lost fishing gear
  • Floating litter hotspots
  • Education and outreach
  • Improved waste management
  • Sewage/stormwater run-off
  • Reduction of single use items
  • Removal of micro plastics from products/zero pellet loss
  • Redesign of harmful products

The RAP is supported by a Communication Plan

Fishing for Litter

OSPAR has already taken practical action to reduce one of the major sources and victims of marine litter the fishing industry. In 2010 OSPAR adopted a Recommendation to promote Fishing for Litter schemes within the North East Atlantic. This simple yet effective scheme has two aims; to remove marine litter from the marine environment and to raise awareness of marine litter issues within the fishing industry.

Fishing for Litter is a simple idea: the participating boats are provided with bags to collect litter that accumulates in their nets as part of their normal fishing activity. The waste is then either recycled or disposed of free of charge on land. The boats participate on a voluntary basis and participating harbours assist with the waste handling and distribution of bags.

The schemes do not result in any additional fishing activity or require vessels to make specific trips to sea. Currently there are over 435 vessels and 50 ports involved in Fishing for Litter schemes in the North East Atlantic.