Governments at the recent meeting of Parties which regulate the dumping of wastes at sea have called for more action to address marine litter in the oceans, particularly plastics and microplastics, which present a severe and long lasting threat to the marine environment.
Parties to the London Convention and Protocol, meeting for their 38th/11th session, expressed concern around the issue of litter and plastics in the marine environment, but also acknowledged that there has been progress by a number of Contracting Parties in highlighting and addressing the particular problems of plastics pollution through measures applied both in the environment and at source.
States were encouraged to make every effort to combat marine litter, including through the identification and control of marine litter at source and to encourage monitoring, additional study and knowledge-sharing on this issue.
The dumping of plastics from ships is banned under the garbage regulations of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution form Ships (MARPOL) and the London Convention and Protocol prohibit the disposal of plastics at sea.
A number of countries have taken action to reduce the use of plastics and to address the problem of microbeads and microplastics entering the marine environment.
Nonetheless, further work was needed including information and research. The recently published Review of the current state of knowledge regarding marine litter in wastes dumped at sea under the London Convention and Protocol, for example notes that it is very difficult to identify the sources of marine litter present in dredged material. The majority of permits for the dumping of waste at sea relate to dredged material.
Ban on dumping of radioactive waste upheld as 25-year review finalized
The meeting finalized its 25-year scientific review of all radioactive wastes and other radioactive matter. The review is required under the treaties, which ban the dumping of radioactive waste at sea.
The meeting thereby agreed that the requirement for the review had been fulfilled, and confirmed the commitment to maintaining the 1994 ban on dumping of radioactive wastes at sea in place, ensuring ongoing protection of the marine environment for future generations.
The prohibition on dumping of radioactive wastes was prohibited under amendments to the London Convention adopted in 1993, but both the London Convention and Protocol allow for the dumping of certain permitted materials so long as they do not contain levels of radioactivity greater than de minimis (exempt) concentrations as defined by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The scientific review is required to be undertaken within 25 years of 20 February 1994 (date of entry into force of the 1993 LC amendments), and at each 25 year interval thereafter.
Strategic Plan adopted
The meeting adopted a new Strategic Plan for the London Convention and Protocol, which sets out the strategic directions and targets for the Contracting Parties out to 2030, coinciding with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Strategic Plan aims to ensure that the London Convention and Protocol are, and will continue to be, proactive, progressing, and forward looking. The Plan also sets out the commitment ensure that a truly universal membership that can be achieved in the foreseeable future.
Revised Specific Guidelines for the assessment of vessels
The meeting approved the Revised Specific Guidelines for the assessment of vessels, further modernizing this guidance and harmonizing it with relevant provisions in the Hong Kong Ship Recycling Convention, and thus ensuring a modern and more complete framework with respect to the disposal of vessels
Low cost, low technology compliance monitoring guidance approved
The meeting approved the low cost, low technology compliance monitoring guidance, which provides practical information about approaches that are useful for monitoring compliance with permit conditions associated with disposal of waste or other matter at sea. The primary audiences are countries that are in the early stages of developing waste assessment and monitoring actions in concert with permit programs for disposal of wastes at sea.