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Marine Litter and the Commons: How Can Effective Governance be Established?

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Kerber, Heide
Conference: Practicing the Commons: Self-Governance, Cooperation and Institutional Change
Location: Utrecht, the Netherlands
Conf. Date: 10-14 July
Date: 2017
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/10384
Sector: General & Multiple Resources
Subject(s): commons
Abstract: "The massive pollution of the world’s oceans with plastic debris presents an urgent global challenge. This pollution is primarily caused by everyday practices such as consumer patterns and poor waste management. Plastic debris, e.g. packaging materials, fishing nets and small plastic fragments, have a severe impact on marine ecosystems as well as on society and the economy. The global community has therefore adopted a series of environmental conventions to protect the seas and oceans, such as the international convention MARPOL. Furthermore a number of regional conventions also addressing land-based sources have come into force, such as OSPAR and HELCOM or the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive. There are also a considerable number of regional initiatives that, among other endeavours, run clean-up or awareness campaigns. Nevertheless, the comprehensive and sustainable governance of plastic still remains an ambitious goal. Gaps between formal law and its enforcement, competing policy priorities and resource constraints, as well as uncertainties and different perceptions of key issues can be identified as major obstacles to preventing further pollution of the world’s oceans. Against this background, this paper presents a ‘stocktaking’ of the marine litter regime. It outlines the key players, global and local negotiations arenas, and management strategies to combat marine litter. The key questions are: who is involved, how do the various actors frame the problem, where do negotiations take place and what are the (possible) management strategies for effectively tackling the issue? This analysis is based on a literature review, participatory observation and a transdisciplinary social-ecological research approach."

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