Marine Debris Action Plans: Development, Implementation and Lessons Learned

Session Chair: Jason Rolfe, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,  Marine Debris Program

This session will focus on developing and implementing local, state, or regional action plans and session participants will learn about the planning and implementation process as well as remaining challenges.

Marine debris is a chronic and persistent problem around the world and we know that simply removing debris from the environment is not a long-term solution. In many coastal regions, marine debris action plans are a vital step to prevent and reduce marine debris. Action plans represent a compilation of recommended strategies and actions to prevent, research, and remove marine debris in a specific geography. Action plans are the culmination of collaborative efforts of federal and state agencies, tribes, local governments, non-governmental organizations, academia, and industry. The action plan development process brings together the entities working on marine debris to increase coordination and collaboration in executing on-going and future actions, and to help track progress over time.

Building off recommendations from the Honolulu Strategy, numerous action plans have been developed or are currently being developed around the globe. Despite all the effort to develop action plans, many challenges remain. Presentations in this session will highlight particularly successful goals and strategies to address priority marine debris issues including those that focus on derelict fishing gear and aquaculture debris, wildlife and habitat impacts, abandoned or derelict vessels, emergency response, and consumer debris.  Participants will hear about the successes and challenges in developing an action plan and will learn valuable information on how to develop and implement successful plans for their region.


Conservation and Community: A Binational Approach to Environmental Stewardship in the United States and Mexico

Session Chairs: Angela Kemsley, WILDCOAST; Samantha Young, San Diego Zoo- Institute for Conservation Research

In this session, professionals from WILDCOAST, the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, and their partners will provide conservation educators, scientists, and enforcement officials with tools to leverage the power of bottom-up, experiential, and community-based conservation projects that will clean-up southwest United States and northwest Mexico to protect the ecosystem, habitats, and species within.

The southwest United States and northwest Mexico provide a unique opportunity to comparatively study and practice conservation techniques. Southern California and norther Mexico share many of the same of the same species and populations, thereby creating mutual conservation issues between the two regions. Despite these similarities, the cultural, economic, and political systems of these two regions are vastly different presenting unique challenges when engaging communities in conservation.

 In the past, conservation projects, especially in Mexico, have focused on excluding locals as community members themselves were often seen as part of the problem. These “fortress conservation” method has been shown to fail for when projects ignore the livelihoods of cultural traditions of a community, members may become resistant to efforts and have even resorted to sabotage and violence. Recognizing the importance of community engagement and building support for conservation projects from the bottom up, recent projects have been working to reconcile conservation and community by including community participation in an integral part of the conservation plan.

This session will bring together experts in the field of community-based conservation from projects both in the southwest United States and northwest Mexico. Specifically, this session will highlight the international work being done by WILDCOAST, a nonprofit, international team that conserves coastal and marine ecosystems and wildlife in the United States, Mexico, Cuba and the San Diego Zoo Global Institute for Conservation Research, and their partners.

Preventing and Reducing Marine Litter in the North-East Atlantic

Session Chairs: Stefanie Werner, German Federal Environment Agency (UBA); John Mouat, OSPAR Commission

 This session will discuss the current status, trends in amounts and composition of marine litter in the North East  Atlantic and what can be done to prevent further introductions and reduce levels.

The North East Atlantic has a diverse marine environment, with a wide range of human activities (e.g. fishing, shipping, aquaculture and offshore oil and gas) and a high coastal population. This has led to levels of marine litter that OSPAR (Convention for the Protection of the North East Atlantic) Ministers highlighted as unacceptable in 2010. In the following years OSPAR has put in place a monitoring programme to assess levels and trends of marine litter on beaches, the seabed and in biota. In 2014 OSPAR adopted a Regional Action Plan (RAP) on marine litter, as called for at the 5th IMDC, and to address its commitment to "substantially reduce marine litter in the OSPAR Maritime Area to levels where properties and quantities do not cause harm to the marine environment" as also required by the Marine Strategy Framework Directive to be achieved by 2020.

The Regional Action Plan sets out 31 common and 23 individual (national) actions that OSPAR Contracting Parties should take to prevent and reduce marine litter which address the relevant sea- and land-based sources as well as education and outreach.

This session will focus on two elements: the current state and trends in marine litter in the North East Atlantic based on recent OSPAR assessments and what further work is needed on monitoring; and the implementation of the OSPAR Regional Action Plan, what has been achieved so far and what more needs to be done to prevent further inputs and reduce levels of marine litter.

Monitoring is key not only of assessing quantities,trends and impacts of marine litter but also in identifying top items that should be addressed by dedicated measures. In 2017 OSPAR assessed three indicators on beach litter, seabed litter and plastic particles in fulmars' stomachs. However gaps in the monitoring programme remain and further indicators are being developed on microplastics and plastic particles in biota. The session will present these assessments and discuss how monitoring can be further improved.

The Regional Action Plan covers key marine litter issues such as port reception facilities, waste from the fishing industry, fines for littering at sea, fishing for litter, ALDFG, floating litter hotspots, improved waste management, sewage stormwater runoff, reduction of single use items, reduction of microplastics use and emissions and redesign of harmful products. Many actions are underway to tackle these issues, however further work is needed to fully implement the actions. The session will discuss the challenges and way forward for implementing regional action plans, including possibilities for cooperation and how they link to other regional and international legislation and other processes.

Policies, other Initiatives and Technical Support of the European Union against Marine Debris

Session Chairs: Francois Galgani, French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (IFREMER), Georg Hanke, MSFD; Stefanie Werner, Federal Environment Agency, Germany; Michael Sponar, EU Commission; Michail Papadoyannakis, EU Commission

The session will address the different EU legislative instruments and policy initiatives to combat marine litter; furthermore explanation will be provided on how the science - policy interface is derived in order to provide the technical advice required for their implementation.

The European Union (EU) is tackling the plastic and microplastics marine pollution already through the implementation of marine environment, waste management and port reception facilities legislation. Moreover, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), LIFE, H2020 and other EU funds support and promote scientific research and technological development on harm caused by litter and microplastics, also considering human health. The Directive for reducing consumption of plastic bags is a key measure for addressing an emblematic source of marine litter. Policies applying extended producer responsibility (EPR) have also a role to play as part of a broader approach to avoid waste arising in the first place and then generating revenues for properly dealing with the waste produced. A Strategy for Plastics will be presented by the EU Commission in 2017 addressing, inter alia, leakages of plastic waste and microplastics to the marine environment; the EU Communication "An Agenda for the future of our ocean" from November 2016 will strengthen international action against marine litter.

According to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), the Member States of the EU must ensure that properties and quantities of marine litter should not cause harm to the coastal and marine environment. EU and its Member States are coordinating closely with their neighbors within the Regional seas Conventions around Europe and, at global level, with UN initiatives.

The technical support to these initiatives is largely provided by the MSFD Technical Group on Marine Litter (TGML). New developments for the implementation of the MSFD for the descriptor 10 (marine litter) have now to be considered, aiming at a better definition of Good Environmental Status (GES), updating monitoring protocols, implementing the monitoring of new indicators such as entanglement, defining baselines and targets for better monitoring the  efficiency of reduction measures, and finally identify new research needs.  This session will address all these questions and consider the following topics:

-  EU policy framework for land- and sea-based sources of marine litter

-  Good environmental status with regard to marine litter

-  EPR implementation in EU and global prospects

-  EU contribution in international collaboration to fight marine litter

-  Scientific and technological development, innovation and cooperation

-  Involvement of the civil society and citizen's science

-  Financial tools and investment opportunities

-  Monitoring of marine Litter and related impacts within MSFD


Advancing Policy and Legislation Changes Regarding Microplastics

Session Chairs: Dr. Tony R. Walker, Dalhousie University; Dirk Xanthos, Scout Environmental

This session will review the current state of policies and legislation regarding phasing out or banning microplastics and explore strategies for advancing further reductions or bans.

Plastics are now ubiquitous in the marine environment. While researchers have noted the problem of plastics in the marine environment since the 1970’s, the issue of marine plastic pollution has only recently been identified as an issue of global significance. Microplastics (defined as plastic fragments less than 5mm) contribute significantly to this marine pollution. Microplastics can travel great distances floating or suspended seawater, and become incorporated in sediment or stranded on beaches. Single-use plastics, such as plastic bags and microbeads, are a significant source of microplastics in the marine environment.

Research has highlighted that plastics have significant environmental, social, and economic impacts. Despite overwhelming evidence of the threat of plastic in the marine environment, there remains inadequate or limited policies to address their mitigation, particularly microplastic debris. Further, few studies have examined policy and legislative tools to reduce plastic pollution, particularly single-use plastics (plastic bags and microbeads). While policies to reduce microbeads began in 2014, interventions for plastic bags began much earlier in 1991. In this session, current international market-based strategies and policies to reduce plastic bags and microbeads will be reviewed. After identifying the current state of play, the session will provide recommendations for improved practises and policies. This will include recommendations for (1) law and waste management strategies; (2) education, outreach and awareness; (3) source identification; and (4) increased monitoring and further research.

Finally, the session will intend to highlight current advocacy efforts for the advancement of microplastic policy and legislation, with the aim of providing direction for individuals to advance such changes in their own regions.      


California Dreaming - Lessons Learned from Nearly Two Decades of On-land Trash Control Programs and Monitoring Efforts

Session Chair: Chris Sommers, EOA, Inc

This session will provide guidance to individuals and the international community from municipalities, regulatory agencies, non-governmental organizations, and researchers in California (USA) based on their 15+ year journey to implement management actions focused on significantly reducing on-land sources of trash/litter and monitoring improvements in trash-impacted waterways.

Since the late 1990's, the State of California has recognized that trash/litter is significantly impacting recreational uses and wildlife habitat in streams, rivers, lakes, estuaries and the Pacific Ocean. Numerous waterways throughout the State are now considered water quality "impaired" via the Federal Clean Water Act due to the amount of trash present in them. These impairment determinations have spawned numerous regulatory and management actions throughout the State that are designed to significantly reduce the amount of trash items reaching waterways. These include regulatory mandates on cities, counties and other public agencies and industries to reduce the impacts that trash originating from on-land sources is having on fisheries, wildlife and recreational uses. Municipalities in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay regions have been the leaders in developing and implementing new technologies and controls to prevent the on-land generation of trash, intercept it before it reaches waterways, and cleanup trash once it reaches these important natural resources. To-date, hundreds-of-millions of dollars have been spent by California municipalities on reducing the impacts of trash on waterways, and millions more will be spent over the next decade to combat this pervasive pollutant. Additional efforts to further the development of trash monitoring and assessment methods are also currently underway in attempts to measure the effectiveness of management actions and the progress being made towards achieving trash reduction goals.

This session will assemble key players throughout California that that are pioneers in developing trash reduction regulations, adopting source control actions such as plastic bag and expanded polystyrene bans, developing innovative technologies to intercept trash, implementing novel litter reduction strategies, and measuring progress over time.  The session will include presentations from water quality regulators, municipalities, non-governmental organizations, and researchers in California on their experiences and lessons learned over the last 15-plus years. The session will conclude with a facilitated panel discussion, and question and answer session. The overall goal of the session will be to share the "California Experience" with attendees, on the sources of on-land trash, the successful and not so successful management actions, and practical methods used to monitor improvements.

See Other Tracks: Monitoring and Citizen Science · Research and Microplastic/Microfibers · Prevention · Private Sector Collaboration, Technology, and Innovation · Education and Communication · Removal · Single-Use Product Policies, Regulations and Laws · Derelict Fishing Gear ·Innovative Case Studies from Around the World