Discarded plastic, industrial waste and unwanted fishing nets are still a growing problem for the world’s oceans, despite decades of efforts to reduce such marine debris. However, a new set of commitments – set out during the recent Fifth International Marine Debris Conference – hope to encourage the sharing of technical, legal and market-based solutions to reduce marine debris.
One of the key findings of the conference was the need to improve waste management practices globally. It was said that improvements to national waste management programmes not only help reduce the volume of waste in the world’s seas and oceans, but can also bring real economic benefits.
The impacts of marine debris are far-reaching, with serious consequences for marine habitats, biodiversity, human health and the global economy. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), at least 267 marine species worldwide are affected by entanglement in, or ingestion of marine debris, including 86% of all sea turtle species, 44% of all seabird species and 43% of all marine mammal species.