APEC economies move towards a common approach to marine debris management

June 22, 2018
Press Release

Busan, Republic of Korea– A meeting of 15 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies held here in June 2018 has proposed wide-ranging measures to prevent and manage the growing problem of marine debris that threatens the environmental and economic well-being of the region.

The draft APEC Marine Debris Management Guidelines prepared at the meeting include a range of recommendations from policies to reduce plastic consumption through a mix of regulations and incentives targeting producers and consumers, support for research and innovation, financing and increased private sector role to making marine debris a priority for APEC leaders and developing an APEC Marine Debris Strategy and Action Plan.

The 19-22 June Capacity Building for Marine Debris Prevention and Management in the APEC Region was attended by maritime and environment ministry officials from Chile, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, People’s Republic of China, Republic of Korea, Peru, the Philippines, Russian Federation, Thailand, United States of America and Viet Nam as well as Timor-Leste.

Presentations on various aspects of the marine debris problem and national and regional experiences in dealing with marine debris were made by leading international marine scientists and the UN Environment Programme Action Plan for the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Northwest Pacific Region (NOWPAP).

“This APEC project supported by Republic of Korea has brought the best of science and policy development in the marine litter management field to address the problem and provided a platform for information-sharing and policy support among member economies. The draft Guidelines developed at the meeting provide a solid foundation for a common framework for marine debris management in APEC economies. UN Environment Programme and NOWPAP are committed to supporting APEC in this important area,” said Dr. Lev Neretin, NOWPAP Coordinator at the conclusion of the meeting.

The increasing threats from marine debris pollution was recognized in the Xiamen Declaration of the Fourth APEC Ocean-Related Ministerial Meeting held in Xiamen, Republic of China in August 2014 which called upon member economies to adopt comprehensive measures to combat the global problem.

The training workshop, organized by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, Republic of Korea and the Korea Marine Environment Management Corporation (KOEM), was the second such event under the APEC Ocean and Fisheries Working Group (OFWG) project ‘Capacity Building for Marine Debris Prevention and Management in the APEC Region’ to tackle the marine litter threat to APEC economies. The first training workshop under the project was held in June 2017 in Yeosu, Republic of Korea.

Six APEC economies alone in East and Southeast Asia contribute over 56 per cent of globally mismanaged plastic waste and are adding up to 7.08 million tons of plastic pollution to the oceans every year. The damage to APEC economies from marine debris was estimated at $1.265 billion in 2008.

Workshop organizers, Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, Republic of Korea and the Korea Marine Environment Management Corporation, welcome panelists before the meeting.