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European Commission


Brussels, 6 December 2013

Commissioner Janez Potočnik welcomes plan to cut marine litter in the Mediterranean

Last night the Conference of Parties of the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean adopted a regional plan to manage marine litter. Following the adoption, EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said:   

I am very pleased to see the Mediterranean convention taking the problem of marine litter so seriously. This is an important step towards achieving the significant reductions in marine debris by 2025 that World Leaders promised at the Rio+20 summit last year. I hope that the other regional sea conventions will now take similar steps.

The adoption, at the COP in Istanbul, comes after months of preparation, and provides a common framework for Mediterranean countries to tackle the problem of marine litter. This makes the Mediterranean the first regional sea convention to adopt such a plan. The actions outlined in the plan can also help EU Member States meet their obligation to achieve 'good environmental status' by 2020, under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

The regional plan is a local effort to reduce to a minimum the presence and impacts of marine litter pollution. It aims to prevent litter from entering the marine environment, remove existing litter where possible, using environmentally respectful methods, and to increase knowledge about the problem.

Some 10 million tons of litter end up in the world's oceans and seas each year, with significant impacts for human health, the environment and the economy. Most of the problem originates with land-based activities, although low levels of government investment are also a factor.

The European Commission is currently asking citizens for opinions on how to solve the marine litter problem in Europe. The consultation is open until 18 December, at

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