African Marine Debris Summit

Event date: 6 June 2013 - 8 June 2013

Venue: SANBI, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
City: Cape Town
Country: South Africa
Website: African Marine Debris Summit



Description:  Marine debris is an international concern not only because it washes up on beaches and shorelines worldwide, but also because debris can be transferred from one country to another via ocean currents. International cooperation is needed to create public awareness while developing ways to decrease the amount of debris in oceans around the globe.

The first African Summit on Marine Debris will take place during World Environmental Week and on World Ocean Day, 6 – 8 June 2013, in Cape Town, South Africa.

Plastics SA, the Department of Environmental Affairs, the South African National Biodiversity Institute and the United Nations Environment Programme are co-organizers of the conference, which will bring together marine debris researchers, natural resource managers, policy makers, industry representatives, and the non-governmental community. The Summit will highlight research advances, allow sharing of strategies and best practices to assess, reduce and prevent the impact of marine debris, and provide an opportunity for the development of specific bilateral or multi-country strategies.

The first day of the 3 day event will focus on the problem of marine debris as well as research on the issue.  The second day will be dedicated to potential solutions to the problem.  World Ocean Day is on the 8th of June and will be devoted to a training session, held on Robben Island, on the methodology of monitoring marine debris in line with the standardised method prescribed at the 5th Marine Debris Conference.

Conference Objectives
•    Share lessons learned on strategies and best practices to reduce and prevent the impact of marine debris.
•    Promote international co-learning and identify possible areas for strengthening continental cooperation.  We will consider the MARPOL Convention, Honolulu Commitment, the Abidjan and Nairobi Conventions and how they impact on the problem.
•    Exchange innovative ideas, such as recycling initiatives and communication strategies, with a view towards up-scaling successful approaches.
•    Share the latest research projects, results and methods.

Marine debris is a historical problem that continues to grow. The world’s oceans and waterways are constantly polluted with a wide variety of marine debris ranging from cans and plastic bags to derelict fishing gear and abandoned vessels. Many animals, such as sea turtles, seabirds and marine mammals, have been known to ingest marine debris, which may lead to loss of nutrition, internal injury, intestinal blockage, starvation and even death. Derelict fishing gear, such as fishing nets and lines, poses entanglement hazards for marine life, can smother the living substrate upon which it settles and can serve as a vector for the introduction of alien species.

Cooperation and coordination between many countries was fostered through five international marine debris conferences held between 1984 and 2011, as well as through smaller international agreements, meetings and workshops. Each conference developed a myriad of recommendations. Some recommendations were implemented and many others showed up repeatedly at multiple conferences and meetings over the course of the past 29 years.

At all of these conferences the absence of African countries was relevant and although the problem of marine debris is not on the same scale as that in the Northern Hemisphere and more developed countries, the ill of littering and poor waste management is increasing on the continent as its economies grow.

This conference will allow the sharing of information to establish a network of African countries to address the dilemma.