article_thumb_303_PEEIF1E1H2W27Marking International bag free-day, over 30 NGOs – among which MIO-ECSDE and its member organizations Nature Trust, DPPVN, UMARINU, MEDASSET, LEGABIENTE and MEDSOS – are making a final call to EU Environment ministers ahead of the July 15 deadline for setting marine litter targets, as required under EU law. In an open letter sent to all 27 ministers, the NGOs are calling for ambitious and significant reduction targets for 2020.

Under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), Member States have to disclose their initial assessments of their own waters, define what they consider to be ‘Good Environmental Status’ and set targets for several marine environmental challenges, including marine litter, for 2020.

Monica Verbeek, Executive Director of Seas At Risk said: “The MSFD presents a golden opportunity for Member States to tackle the problem of marine litter and plastic pollution in our seas. We want to see Member States committing to targets that will have a real and noticeable effect on litter levels on our beaches and in our seas, not only for the sake of marine life, but also to reduce the economic burden marine litter brings to coastal communities and maritime industries. Significant reductions are possible but strong political will is needed now.”

The 32 NGOs – whose interests range from turtle conservation to waste reduction policy – fear that Member States could end up wasting the opportunity by setting weak targets that if achieved will have little effect on the state of the marine environment.

The letter – and an associated advice document for the Environment ministers that was published earlier this year – details the feasibility of setting a 50% reduction target in marine litter by 2020.

The letter is being sent out individually to all European Environment Ministers on July 3 to mark ‘International bag-free day’ and this year groups from all over the world are organising activities to raise awareness on the impact of single-use plastic bags on the environment.

The letter can be read in full below