Marine Litter

What is Marine Litter?

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.

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.

Overview of Marine Litter Activities in NOWPAP


NOWPAP Marine Litter activity (MALITA)

NOWPAP MALITA started after its approval by the 10th IGM in 2005. Various activities such as collecting and sharing information, making guidelines and awareness materials were implemented during 2006-2007.

NOWPAP Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter (RAP-MALI)

The goal of NOWPAP RAP MALI is to improve the quality of the marine and coastal environment of the NOWPAP region by addressing the marine litter problem through cooperation and partnerships. To achieve its goal, following three objectives are suggested,

  • To prevent marine litter input into the marine and coastal environment
  • To monitor quantities and distribution of marine litter
  • To remove existing litter that was already discarded, disposed of and abandoned into the marine and coastal environment


Activities of CEARAC

1.Achievements in the past (-2009)

I. Guidelines

CEARAC developed 'Guidelines for Monitoring Marine Litter on the Beaches and Shorelines of the Northwest Pacific Region' in 2007 in order to promote marine litter monitoring activities in the NOWPAP member states. Based on these guidelines, each member state implements monitoring surveys and the results are shared among them.

CEARAC also developed eMarine Litter Guidelines for Tourists and Tour Operators in Marine and Coastal Areasf in 2007 to prevent marine litter generation from this sector, because tourists are one of the main sources of marine litter generation.

II. Technical Booklet

CEARAC developed 'Booklet on Recycling of Plastic Marine Litter' which introduces recycling technologies for plastic marine litter in Japan based on the report by NPEC. A large volume of plastic marine litter exists in the sea areas around the world. To reduce and recycle such plastic litter, this booklet provides useful information and technologies.

A model survey for reducing marine litter is conducted by the Ministry of the@Environment, Japan in order to understand the current situation in detail and to@consider the countermeasures against marine litter generation, including effective collecting and treating methods. The summary report eModel Survey for Reduction of Marine Litterf was published in 2009.

III. Public awareness materials

CEARAC developed a pamphlet eWhat can we do about marine litterf as a public awareness material in order to reduce marine litter generation. From 2008 on, when eNOWPAP national monitoring on marine litter (ML monitoring)f started in each NOWPAP member state, eCurrent situation on marine litter in the NOWPAP regionf has been also provided.

IV. Information and data

In 2008@the NOWPAP@member@states@started@ML@monitoring@based@on@the@agreement of the NOWPAP Marine Litter Regional Action Plan (RAP-MALI). The monitoring data is submitted to CEARAC from each member state for compilation and harmonization, and then, it is uploaded to the DINRAC Website.

CEARAC has compiled the results and provided the latest information on the marine@litter situation in the NOWPAP region through the website eNOWPAP National Monitoring of Marine Litter 2009f.

CEARAC also introduces ethe Current Situation of Marine Litter in the Northwest Pacific Regionf using the data provided by NPEC. NPECfs marine litter monitoring is conducted in all of the NOWPAP member states using the common monitoring method. So, it is possible to compare the situations among the member states.

X. Events

To share information on the best practices on marine litter issues of each member state and to consider more effective measures, ethe 2nd NOWPAP Workshop on Marine Litterf was held in March 2007.
This workshop contributed to the establishment of NOWPAP RAP MALI.

2. Current Activities (in 2010-2011)

I. Updated Tourism Guidelines

CEARAC has updated eMarine Litter Guidelines for Tourists and Tour Operators in Marine and Coastal Areasf by adding useful information on the best practices to prevent garbage generation, which are implemented in the NOWPAP member states.

eMarine Litter Guidelines for Tourists and Tour Operators in Marine and Coastal Areas (2011)f

II. Government measures and best practices for prevention of marine litter input from land-based sources in the NOWPAP region

To reduce marine litter in the NOWPAP region, it is necessary to develop and take effective countermeasures against litter generation from land-based sources, or to share effective countermeasures conducted in each member state, both in national and local levels. So, CEARAC collects useful information on existing government measures for prevention of marine litter input and the situation on cooperation between central and local governments. The report on this information will be published in 2012.

III. Situation on marine litter in the NOWPAP region

CEARAC introduces the latest situation on marine litter in the NOWPAP region in the pamphlet eCurrent situation on marine litter in the NOWPAP regionf as well as the website eNOWPAP National Monitoring of Marine Litterf

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