Ocean plastics - a violation of international law?

By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 20 February 2018

MCS will attend the Ocean Plastics Crisis Summit at the Royal Geographical Society later today where two reports will be launched outlining actions that can be taken to stop plastics entering the worlds oceans.

Plastic Bag underwater
© Rich Carey / Shutterstock

Article 194 of UNCLOS, for instance, requires states to “prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment from any source.”

One of the reports, by the editor of The Ecologist, Oliver Tickell, says that the world’s governments have existing legal obligations to put a stop plastic litter getting into our seas.

The report ‘International Law and Marine Plastic Pollution - Holding Offenders Accountable’ will, according to the BBC, urge governments that are trying to tackle the issue to put legal pressure on those that aren’t.

Tickell says that marine plastic litter can already be controlled through the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); the London Convention; the MARPOL Convention; the Basel Convention; Customary Law, and many other regional agreements.

Article 194 of UNCLOS, for instance, requires states to “prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment from any source.”

His conclusions are backed by environmental lawyers, ClientEarth.

A second report ‘Stopping Ocean Plastics – an Action Agenda’: will also be launched at the event, It’s a solutions-oriented report by Edward Kosior and Irene Crescenzi and argues that prevention at source is the key action to take in order to reduce the amount of plastics that reaches the oceans.

The event is organised by the musical charity group Artists Project Earth and hosted by Roger Harrabin, BBC Environment Analyst.

Speakers include Bianca Jagger - President, Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, Peter Maddox - Director, WRAP, Iain Gulland - Zero Waste Scotland, Oliver Tickell - Environmental Journalist and Prof Richard Thompson form the University of Plymouth.

MCS is currently calling on UK governments to put a charge on single-use plastic throwaway items and demanding that big fast food chains stop giving out millions of plastic cups, stirrers, straws and cutlery but instead replace them with reusable or fully compostable alternatives.

Actions you can take

  1. Help us stop the plastic tide
  2. Download the Great British Beach Clean Report 2019

Did you know?…

UK Seas provide us with resources from fish to renewable marine energy

To date, our beach cleans have removed over 11 million pieces of litter

Over time, one plastic bottle bobbing along in the ocean can break down in to hundreds of tiny plastic pieces