By Pedro Fernández, EUCC Mediterranean Centre
Marine litter is a growing concern across European seas and the EU is putting strong emphasis on addressing it, mainly through the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. To this aim, more than 200 stakeholders were convened at International Conference on Prevention and Management of Marine Litter in EuropeanSeas in Berlin, 10-12 April 2013. EUCC highly contributed to the different sessions through different projects and initiatives.
In particular, HealthySeas initiative was presented by Coastal & Marine Union (EUCC) director Mike Mannaart, representing the ECNC Group, which was very welcomed since it brings business and NGOs together to remove marine litter. In fact, this initiative aims at collecting fishing nets abandoned in the sea to recycle them and produce high quality products like e.g. socks.
Furthermore, Joana Mira Veiga from EUCC and representing FP7 MARLISCO project highlighted the importance of public awareness to address marine litter. This does not relate the wide public but also business and governments. This project aims at bringing together these stakeholders, promoting co-responsibility and concerted actions.
On the evening of the second conference day, rapid presentations were given by many participants. Pedro Fernández presented Stakeholders’ proposal to prevent sewage as marine litter source in Barcelona, resulting from EUCC Mediterranean Centre work at the 4 Seas case studies for the EC. Moreover, Heather Leslie from the VU University Amsterdam and FP7 CleanSea coordinator presented the project and called for stakeholders engagement towards a CleanSea based on scientific evidence and good governance. EUCC Mediterranean Centre leads CleanSea communication and promoted the project towards attendants. Finally, the pilot project Removal of marine litter from Europe’s four regional seas – MARELITT, where EUCC is part of the consortium, was promoted towards the wide audience.
The conference concluded with a high level political panel, including interventions from Commissioner Janez Potočnik and the German and Irish Ministers of Environment. The Berlin message was agreed by all participants expressing the commitment towards marine litter reduction throughout European seas.