Home Marine Litter

What is Marine Litter?

2018-10-08

Marine litter (sometimes called marine debris) is any persistent, manufactured or processed solid material, which is discarded, disposed of or abandoned in the marine and coastal environment. Marine litter consists of mostly very slowly degradable waste items such as plastic, polystyrene, metals and glass.

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Marine litter is found on the beaches and shores, on the water surface, in the water column and on the seabed. It can be found near the source of input but also can be transported over a long distances with sea currents and winds.

Marine litter causes marine environmental, economic, health and aesthetic problems, including possible transfer of toxic substances and invasive species, destruction of marine habitats and loss of biodiversity. It also threatens marine life through entanglement, suffocation and ingestion as well as poses a risk to human health and life. (Find more at http://marine-litter.gpa.unep.org)

Marine litter entering the marine and coastal environment has multiple sources that can be divided into two major sources: ship-based (sea-based) sources and land-based sources.


Main sea-based sources

Main land-based sources

· Merchant shipping, ferries and cruise liners;

· Fishing vessels;

· Military fleets and research vessels;

· Pleasure craft;

· Offshore oil and gas platforms;

· Aquaculture installations;

· Waterway recreational activities (such as

diving and marinas)

· Municipal landfills (waste dumps) located on the coast;

· Riverine transport of waste from landfills or other sources along rivers and other inland waterways (canals);

· Discharge of untreated municipal sewage and storm water (including occasional overflows);

· Industrial facilities (solid waste from landfills and untreated water); 

· Tourism (recreational visitors to the coast and beach goers)


What Can We Do to Reduce the Marine Litter?

Do you know the 3Rs?

The principle of reducing waste, reusing and recycling resources and products is often called the "3Rs"

·  Reducing means choosing to use things with care to reduce the amount of waste generated.

·   Reusing involves the repeated use of items or parts of items which still have usable aspects.

·      Recycling means the use of waste itself as a resource.

Waste minimization can be achieved in an efficient way by focusing primarily on the first of the 3Rs, "reduce", followed by "reuse" and then "recycle".

Have you ever done any of these things?

·       Dropping cigarette butts on the beach or street gully.

·       Using fireworks on the beach and not taking what has been left over with you.

·       Throwing out tangled fishing lines into the sea.

·       Losing bags of bait and fishing gear when you are fishing.

·       Throwing out garbage on the beach or in the park.

·       Stuffing your garbage into overflowing garbage cans.

How to reduce the marine litter?

1. For common activities

·    Notice that throwing garbage overboard is illegal and separation of them helps proper disposal.

·     Stow goods securely on-board to prevent accidental overboard discharge of litter.

·     Provide adequate and convenient garbage collection facilities. All docks, mainas, fishing piers, and ports are required by international law to provide waste reception facilities.

·    Retain all pieces of fishing line and encourage your local fishing tackle shop to install recycling bins for used line.

·      Bring back shipboard litter and retrieve garbage encountered during fishing.

·    Prevent nets, traps, and buoys from being abandoned or lost. Pull out all damaged /unusable ones and recheck all floats and lines.

·       Purchase reusable products with less packing and relatively longer lifetime.

·       Promote garbage retrieval and recycling through boaters and fisherman education.

·       Organize a beach/underwater cleanup to increase the public awareness.

2. For fishing activities

·       Buy and use the recyclable or degradable fishing gear.

·       Reduce unnecessary fishing gear and use appropriate number of fishing gear.

·       Reuse and recycle fishing gear.

·       Don't toss fishing line or fishing nets overboard.

·       Manage buoys, floats, straps with caution and do not let them to be drifted or blown off.

·       Take back unusable fishing gear and dispose of properly.

·       Don't throw marine litter back into ocean if it is caught during the fishing operation and dispose it of at a shore, use      port reception facilities.

3. For commercial shipping activities

·       Don't use unnecessary packaging materials.

·       Store materials safely such as straps, sheets and pallets.

·    Put containers securely not to fall out into sea, especially if they contain potentially hazardous materials.

·       Don't toss goods or pallets overboard, keep them from falling out into sea.

4. For recreational activities

Activities Related to Shipboard Life

·       Remove packaging material on shore to eliminate potential marine litter onboard.

·       Pack food in reusable containers rather than plastic bags.

·       Use permanent or reusable tableware instead of disposable ones.

·       Do not throw away overboard cigarette butts, beverage cans, food wrappers, etc.

·       Tackle Shop

·       Recommend your customers the environment-friendly items.

·       Let your customers leave the excessive wraps of purchased items in your shop to reduce potential marine litter.

·       Charter Boat Captain

·       Make boat policy that 'NO TRASH' is discarded overboard.

·       Do not let crews and clients toss waste overboard.

·       Retrieve fishing line, net or other litters encountered in the water or, if not retrievable, report to the relevant authority.

·       Set up an onboard system to segregate trash for recycling.

·       Bring all generated marine litter ashore.

·       Use the port reception facilities. If they are inadequate, request better services from the facility manager.

·       Marina and Diving Center

·       Set up trash bins for boaters.

·    Encourage boaters to set up an onboard system to segregate marine litter for easy disposal and recycling on shore.

·       Clearly label recycling bins and make sure they are accessible.

5. For passengers ships

·       Remove packaging material on shore to eliminate space-consuming waste onboard.

·       Never leave used oil or fuel filters unattended. Store them in a safe and secure place.

·       Separate and store recyclable materials like cans and bottles, glass, paper, antifreeze, oil, oil filters, and lead batteries.

·       Designate a permanent onboard trash bin. Use a container with a lid.

·       Bring all litter generated during the voyage back ashore.

·       Properly dispose of all marine litter on-shore, and use receptacle bins.

·       Educate people about the importance of reducing the marine litter and good waste management system on vessels.

6. For tourists

·       Don't leave litter on the beach.

·     Try not to bring items that could become litter, such as disposable plates, cups and plastic bottles-bring reusable items.

·       Bring your own rubbish bag for the storage of your litter.

·       If you are a smoker, bring your own portable ashtray.

·       Take your litter home if there are no rubbish bins.

·       Dispose of litter in accordance with local regulations.

·       Don't use rubbish bins that are full or nearly full-rubbish may spill out of the bin.

·       Secure your belongings to prevent them from being blown away by the wind.

·       Voluntarily pick up litter on the beach or in the sea. Picking up even one piece of litter will make a difference if we all do it!

·       Participate in beach cleanup activities.