Monday July 18, 2022


Ocean plastic pollution was a focus at the recent UN oceans conference, which issued a declaration in support of an earlier decision by the UN Environment Assembly to start negotiations for a global plastics treaty. 

This initiative has been welcomed almost universally, but it must not distract from the fact we actually already have good international laws regulating ships that plastics overboard. We are just not enforcing them properly.

An estimated half of ocean plastic pollution comes from some 4.5 million fishing vessels operating in national and international waters. Recent research suggests more than 100 million pounds of plastic enters the oceans from industrial fishing gear alone.

Better implementation and enforcement of existing laws would be a much faster way of addressing ship-source plastic pollution than waiting for a new treaty to be adopted.

Plastic waste from fishing vessels includes lost and deliberately abandoned fishing gear such as nets, pots, floats, crates and fish aggregation devices (FADs). 

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