UfM: Project Launched to Combat Plastic Waste in Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas
Barcelona – The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), the EU Interreg Med Programme, the University of Siena and the Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA) launched Tuesday in Siena the project “Plastic Busters MPAs: preserving biodiversity from plastics in Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas”.
The project “Plastic Busters MPAs”, funded by the EU Interreg Med Programme with €5 million, stems from the “Plastic Busters” initiative, promoted by the University of Siena and labelled in 2016 by the 43 Member States of the Union for the Mediterranean as a priority regional initiative to prevent, reduce and remove marine litter from the Mediterranean Sea, UfM said in a press release published on its website.
The project will be implemented by the University of Siena, the ISPRA and a wide consortium of national and regional organisations with the overall goal of maintaining biodiversity and preserving natural ecosystems in pelagic and coastal marine protected areas by implementing a harmonized approach against marine litter.
Over a 4-year period, the project will address the entire management cycle of marine litter, from monitoring and assessment to prevention and mitigation, as well as actions to strengthen networking between and among pelagic and coastal marine protected areas located in Albania Croatia Greece Italy, France and Spain. The project also foresees the transfer and capitalisation of results and achievements to the Mediterranean basin at large, the source added
The project tackles marine litter, and in particular plastic waste, via a coordinated approach in order to diagnose its impact on biodiversity in marine protected areas – including the identification of “marine litter hotspots”-, define and test the surveillance, prevention and mitigation measures of marine pollution from plastic waste, as well as develop a common framework of marine litter actions towards the conservation of biodiversity in Mediterranean marine protected areas. The project will also contribute to implement a Regional Plan on Marine Litter Management in the Mediterranean.
Miguel García-Herraiz, UfM Deputy Secretary General for Water and Environment, said: “Studies indicate that by 2050 there could be more plastic than fish in the seas. We all have a responsibility to preserve the Mediterranean and avoid that it turns into a threat for us and for our future generations”. He added: “There is a strong will of all the UfM countries to work together in this vital area through enhanced cooperation at regional and sub-regional levels. I am happy to announce that this project has been fully funded this year and enters into effective implementation phase as of now”.
Mohamad Afana, UfM Co-President for Environment, Director of Policies & Institutional Development at the Ministry of Environment of Jordan said: “Marine litter has been highlighted as emerging priority within the UfM Ministerial on Environment and Climate Change, adopted by the 43 countries in 2014, and continues to be a top priority in the UfM agenda with respect to both, depollution and pollution prevention aspects. This goes with the need for the Mediterranean region to push forward the transition towards a circular economy”.
Marine litter represents a serious threat to the marine and coastal environment in the Mediterranean. It originates in an approximate 80% from land based activities, in particular from an inadequate urban solid waste management. According to the European Environmental Agency, the average amount of municipal solid waste produced in the EU is 520 kg per person/year and is forecasted to increase to 680 kg per person/year by 2020.
While solid waste generated in non‐EU Mediterranean countries is around half the per capita level in the EU, waste generation in the Southern Mediterranean region has grown by 15 % over the last decade. At the same time, millions of marine animals die every year because of marine litter, including sea birds, seals, whales, dolphins and turtles. In some areas, micro plastics already outnumber plankton by six to one.