Marine litter and microplastics

The NOWPAP activities related to marine litter have been initiated since November 2005 when the project proposal was approved at the Tenth NOWPAP Intergovernmental Meeting. The first phase, called Marine Litter Activity (MALITA), was completed by the end of 2007. The overall objective of the MALITA project was to develop a NOWPAP Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter (RAP MALI) in order to promote the environmental protection and sustainable development of the NOWPAP region. The second phase of NOWPAP marine litter activities is the implementation of NOWPAP RAP MALI which started in March 2008. Some activities carried out during the MALITA project continued during the RAP MALI implementation.

The MALITA consisted of several components such as collection and review of existing data and information on marine litter, including legal aspects; organization of regional meetings and workshops to share such information as well as to build common understanding of the marine litter issue; development and implementation of a long-term monitoring programme; development of sectoral guidelines for the management of marine litter focusing on fishing, shipping and tourism; and raising public awareness, including education campaigns, as well as approach to the civil society, including private sector, NGOs and the general public.

The MALITA has been successfully implemented under the overall responsibility of the NOWPAP Regional Coordinating Unit (RCU) in close cooperation with the UNEP Regional Seas Programme, the four NOWPAP Regional Activity Centres and the Member States.  

The NOWPAP Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter (RAP MALI) launched in 2008 is the key cooperation framework tackling marine litter and microplastics in the region. The Plan aims to improve the quality of the marine and coastal environment of the Northwest Pacific region by addressing the marine litter problem through cooperation and partnerships. NOWPAP RAP MALI focuses on the three main objectives:

  • to prevent the marine litter input into the marine and coastal environment;
  • to monitor the quantities and distribution of marine litter; and
  • to remove existing litter that was already discarded, disposedof and abandoned.

NOWPAP maintains a marine litter database and organizes annual International Coastal Clean-up (ICC) campaigns with civil society participation in Member States. The Northwest Pacific Regional Node managed by NOWPAP facilitates exchange of information on marine litter among member states and international organizations.

In 2017, NOWPAP initiated study of the growing threat of microplastics pollution in the region, focusing on microplastics contamination associated with river runoff.

Development of the institutional and legal framework to address the marine litter problem in the region has been supported with work on solid waste management, integrated coastal and river basin management as well as market-based economic incentives.

Guidelines have been developed to reduce marine litter generation by the fishing, shipping and tourism sectors.

Timeline and major outputs of NOWPAP major marine litter activities since 2008:

2018: NOWPAP RAP MALI Focal Points Meeting was established as regional coordination mechanism for RAP MALI implementaiton. Its Terms of Reference were adopted by the 23rd NOWPAP Intergovernmental Meeting (9-11 October 2018, Moscow). In 2018-2019, NOWPAP will focus on collecting information on national activities addressing microplastics pollution. The NOWPAP Data and Information Regional Activity Centre (DINRAC) developed an online marine litter information portal of the Northwest Pacific Regional Node. The NOWPAP Marine Environmental Emergency Preparedness and Response Regional Activity Centre (MERRAC) published two important assessments: ”Understanding of Floating Marine Litter Distribution and Impacts in the NOWPAP region” and “Review and Analysis of Floating Marine Litter Prediction Models in the NOWPAP region”. Research report on microplastic content and migration in the coastal waters of the Peter the Great Gulf published. ICC and NOWPAP-TEMM Marine Litter Management Workshop organized in Busan, Republic of Korea on 4-5 June 2018. Meetings report and presentations are available here.

2017: The NOWPAP Special Monitoring and Coastal Environmental Assessment Regional Activity Centre (CEARAC) compiled and harmonized beach marine litter data from each member state. NOWPAP ICC and NOWPAP-TEMM Marine Litter Management Workshop organized in Toyama, Japan on 19-20 September 2017. Meetings report and presentations are available here.

2016: ICC and NOWPAP-TEMM Marine Litter Management Workshop organized in Vladivostok, Russia on 23-24 September 2016.

2015: Two reports - “Marine Litter Management within a River Basin” and “Best Practices in dealing with Marine Litter in Fisheries, Aquaculture and Shipping Sectors in the NOWPAP region” - published. NOWPAP ICC and NOWPAP-TEMM Workshop on Marine Litter Management hold on 24-25 September in Yantai, People’s Republic of China.

2014: NOWPAP set up the Northwest Pacific Regional Node of the Global Partnership on Marine Litter (GPML) jointly with the Northwest Pacific Region Environmental Cooperation Center (NPEC). NOWPAP ICC and Workshop on Marine Litter Management hold on 25-26 Septmber in Boryeong, Republic of Korea.

2013: The Global Programme of Action for the Protection of Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA) supported NOWPAP in preparing the following publications:

Case study on negative impacts of marine litter in the NOWPAP region and “A regional report on measures and best practices for prevention of marine litter input from land-based sources in the NOWPAP region” published.  NOWPAP ICC and Workshop on Marine Litter Management organized on 24-26 October 2013, in Okinawa, Japan.

2012: NOWPAP ICC and Workshop on Marine Litter Management, Vladivostok, Russian Federation.

           Port Reception Facilities in the NOWPAP Region - 2nd Edition was published.

2011: NOWPAP ICC and Workshop on Marine Litter Management organized on 20-21 September in Lianyungang, People’s Republic of China.

          The Regional Overview on Marine Litter in the NOWPAP Region was published in 2011.

2010: NOWPAP ICC held in Jeju, Republic of Korea. NOWPAP ICC held in Hirado, Japan. The following reports were published:

2009: The Regional Report on Sea-based Marine Litter in the NOWPAP Region was published in 2009.

            NOWPAP ICC organized on 28 September 2009 in Vladivostok, Russia

2008: NOWPAP ICC organized in Dalian, People’s Republic of China. NOWPAP ICC organized in Vladivostok, Russian Federation.

           Regional Overview of Marine Litter in NOWPAP Region (2nd edition)  and the Marine Litter Management: The approach of Incheon City, Republic of Korea were published in 2008.

Before 2008: NOWPAP initiated work on marine litter in November 2005 with the 1st of the “Regional Overview on Marine Litter in the NOWPAP Region”,  “Regional Overview on Legal Instruments, institutional Arrangements and Programmes related to Marine Litter”, and Recycling of Plastic Marine Litter  published in 2007.

            The 2nd NOWPAP Workshop on Marine Litter held on 28-29 March 2007 in Toyama, Japan

            The 1st NOWPAP Workshop on Marine Litter held on 8-9 June 2006 in Incheon, Republic of Korea