Vanuatu leads adoption of an international plan of action to address marine plastic litter from ships

Abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gears represent a major threat to the marine environment.

“It is now a fact that plastic is turning up in every corner of our planet and that our oceans are slowly turning into a plastic soup,” says Ralph Regenvanu, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Minister Regenvanu, who was instrumental in the complete banning of plastic shopping bags, polystyrene takeaway containers and plastic straws this year and recently sealed a UK and Vanuatu-led Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance to join forces in the global fight against plastic pollution.

In Vanuatu’s fight against marine plastic litter, Regenvanu has informed Daily Post of the leadership role of the Vanuatu Delegation at the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) which last week adopted an Action Plan to address marine plastic litter from ships that is the source of 20% of the plastic that goes into the ocean.

“It is already prohibited to discharge plastic at sea according to the IMO International Convention known as MARPOL, but there is a need for further actions,” says Vanuatu’s Ambassador to the IMO, Laurent Parenté, who successfully secured the support the IMO Member States in April this year to address the issue of marine plastic litter from ships during the coming years.

Ambassador Parenté reported that over the course of last IMO meeting on Marine Environment Protection (22 to 26 Oct), Vanuatu drafted and submitted an extensive paper to tackle marine plastic litter from ships to which 14 countries associated themselves. Vanuatu’s submission was commended and supported by more than 40 countries, indicates Ambassador Parenté.

On Friday 26th October, the IMO adopted a Plan of Action to address Marine Plastic Litter from Ships listing 30 measures to be further explored with 18 of those coming from Vanuatu recommended actions some specifically targeting abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gears representing 46% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (see picture).

“Vanuatu can be proud of its achievements at IMO,” says Minister Regenvanu.

“It demonstrates how a small nation like ours can be successful before a UN Organization on a matter of such magnitude that requires urgent action to protect the world’s precious oceans for future generations”.

The Minister commended the work of Ambassador Parenté and also urged the people of Vanuatu to stop improperly disposing of plastic, reminding us that 80% of the marine plastic litter is coming from land based sources.

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