article_thumb_246_UJ7CB5J4XRLQ3MIO-ECSDE was invited to participate in the Focal Points Meeting of MEDPOL held in Rhodes on 25-27 May 2011. Together in the NGO front MIO-ECSDE joined with HELMEPA and Cleanup Greece, all three of which have cooperated in the development of the study on marine litter in the Mediterranean (Find the results of the assessment of marine litter in the Mediterranean here).

The meeting was also attended by representatives of Mediterranean states, the European Commission and intergovernmental organizations.

The main items discussed and reviewed included:

  • The work carried out during 2010-2011;
  • The draft Regional Plans containing legally binding measures and timetables in the framework of Art.15 of the LBS Protocol;
  • Criteria and standards for bathing waters;
  • The draft Strategy for an integrated management of marine litter;
  • The work plan for 2012-2013 MEDPOL activities.

The discussions on the 2010-2011 MEDPOL Progress Report and its corresponding activities, which was later endorsed, revealed the Focal Points’ deep concern regarding the gaps in monitoring data resulting from the lack of reporting by a number of countries. All Mediterranean countries were urged to comply with the legal obligation under the Barcelona Convention and the LBS Protocol to transmit marine monitoring data regularly to the Secretariat.

After several amendments, the Focal Points endorsed the three draft Regional Plans on mercury, BOD5 in the food sector and nine POPs and recommended their transmission to the MAP Focal Points for approval.

The criteria and standards for bathing waters were approved pending the addition of a detailed chapter providing background information on the integration of beach profiles into this process.

Concerning the draft Strategy for an integrated management of marine litter, Ms. Thomais Vlachogianni, representing MIO-ECSDE, expressed high appreciation of the work done so far regarding the preparation of the Strategy and pointed out a few lacking elements to be amended in the final document. These include the need to highlight and take fully into account the Ecosystem Approach and the 10th Ecological Objective on marine litter (“Marine and coastal litter do not adversely affect biodiversity and ecosystem services) as well as its corresponding Operational Objectives and indicators. In addition, MIO-ECSDE emphasized the key role that NGOs should play in the implementation of the strategy and requested that clear reference is made to existing training and awareness raising materials developed in cooperation with MEDPOL (e.g. Keep the Mediterranean Litter Free campaign leaflet, the publication on Public awareness for the management of marine litter in the Mediterranean, etc). Furthermore, specific attention should be given to the methodologies for raising awareness and engaging the public, especially students in clean up campaigns, as these should be considered the starting point of a concerted effort towards the minimization of marine litter on beaches and not the end result.

Finally MIO-ECSDE volunteered to share the experiences to be gained through its participation in an FP7 project on “Marine Litter in Europe Seas: Social Awareness and Co-Responsibility” to be launched in the next coming months.

Unfortunately the long-awaited draft Strategy for an integrated management of marine litter was not adopted, although its preparation was warmly welcomed by the Focal Points. Instead, the Secretariat was asked to prepare a short policy document, taking into account the Ecosystem Approach roadmap to ensure convergence and avoid overlapping and submit it to the MAP Focal Points Meeting for approval.

For more info contact: Thomais Vlachogianni,