Combating marine litter: the building block of a global strategy to protect the Ocean’s ecosystems

by Yannick Laude

Meeting today in a virtual plenary session, the European Parliament has adopted the report of Catherine Chabaud (Renaissance, France) on the impact of marine litter on fisheries.

“This is a subject which is particularly close to my heart because I observed the first debris of marine litter at sea 30 years ago, during my first offshore races. I have been involved for many years in the preservation and protection of marine ecosystems and have campaigned for the development of more sustainable fishing practices. It is high time to integrate all maritime challenges together and promote a real maritime strategy, obviously including marine pollution, which threatens our ecosystems as much as our fishing activities “explains Catherine Chabaud.

Combating marine litter and responding to its impact on fisheries requires a global action framework to act upstream and downstream and strengthen the land-sea link in public policies: “80% of marine pollution comes from land. When we talk about marine litter, we can’t just pretend to clean the ocean without concerted action. We must act with common sense in hotspots areas while emphasizing prevention, research but also innovation, in order to integrate circularity throughout the fishing sector, which represents today many challenges” declares Catherine Chabaud

The report put forward several recommendations:

· better knowledge of the origin and spread of marine litter

· a more effective legislative framework

· a holistic and global vision of the waste life cycle

· an action plan on land, in particular against litter that follows the path of rivers and more specifically on micro and nanoplastics

· the development of a true circular economy in the fishing and aquaculture sectors

· the launch of coordinated waste collection in rivers, estuaries and at sea.

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