The public is becoming increasingly aware of the scale of the marine litter problem – a problem KIMO has worked hard to address since 1990. Marine Litter is a global problem. Ocean currents can carry plastics for thousands of miles. It is estimated that 8 million tonnes of rubbish enter the oceans each year – enough to cover the world’s coastlines several times over. Plastics make up 80% of marine litter and can take up to 600 years to break down in the marine environment. Is it any wonder then that we are seeing large accumulations of marine pollution on beaches across the world?
Governments and policymakers in Europe are well aware of the marine litter problem. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the MARPOL convention, the EU’s Plastics Strategy, Marine Strategy Framework Directive, Water Framework Directive, Port Reception Facilities Directive, and OSPAR’s Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter all make special provision for preventing and removing marine pollution. Of course, more can and must be done to address marine litter. This is why KIMO lobbies national governments, the EU, the IMO, OSPAR and HELCOM to update and revise existing legislation in order to address the evolving nature of the problem and protect our seas and coastlines. It is heartening to know that the political will to tackle the problem is enormous. At the Our Ocean Conference in 2017 governments from across the world pledged an additional €7.2 billion to prevent and address marine pollution.
At the local level, municipalities are increasingly asking what they can do to prevent and clean up marine litter. Being on the frontline in the battle against marine pollution, municipalities can benefit from having a dedicated association to help them tackle the problem… KIMO at your service. We are always very happy to welcome new members into the KIMO fold and extend a warm welcome to our 3 newest members:
Uddevalla Kommun became the 13th member of KIMO Sweden following a decision by their Council to join (see § 107). Uddevalla is located in the province of Bohuslän, 8 kilometers north of Gothenburg. It has a strategic position at the sea with a coastline of 27 miles. The population in the municipality has increased since 2000 and now has 55,763 inhabitants. The municipality’s website states that:
About 60% of the decisions taken in the EU have a direct impact on the municipal activities, so it is important that the municipality follows and participates in EU policies. By monitoring the EU, we can participate in and influence the development of issues that are important to our municipality and our region as a whole.
Couldn’t have said it better. Uddevalla also recognises the value to municipalities of international cooperation:
Several municipal challenges and development needs are common to municipalities across the EU. Uddevalla municipality has great opportunities to grow stronger through cooperation with other countries, giving us new perspectives and new skills that can contribute to positive development.
The story of Uddevalla becoming a KIMO member generated wider interest and was also covered by the Bohusläningen newspaper. A warm KIMO welcome!
Slagelse Kommune becomes the 17th member of KIMO Denmark. The municipality has a total of 21 lovely municipal beaches spread across the Storebælts coast, many of them with Blue Flag accreditation. The municipality’s website invites residents and visitors to find the beach perfect, whatever their need:
You do not find wide, mile-long stretches of sandy beaches or violent tides. Instead, the beaches are numerous and small, and with sandy bottom most places as well as bathing water of a quality that is usually in the top.
If you are playing in the water like windsurfing, water skiing, diving or sailing or playing on shore with beach volleyball, beach handball or petanque, for example, you will find a beach that suits you.
If you prefer a walk along the coast, fishing or watching birds and fossils while enjoying peace and quiet, there is also a beach for you.
For divers, there are also underwater adventures aplenty to be had in Slagelse:
We look forward to working with Slagelse municipality to protect their beautiful coastal heritage for future generations. Welcome back to KIMO!
Another returning member, after a brief hiatus, is Highland Council in Scotland. Highland Council is possibly the KIMO member with the longest coastline – a whopping 4,905 km! The Highland Council area covers a third of Scotland and is almost the same size as Belgium. The municipality is well aware of the marine plastics problem and as such has committed to phasing out single use plastics from its sites and schools, far exceeding current statutory requirements. Following a campaign by local school pupils, Ullapool, in the Highland Council area, became the first village in the UK to abolish plastic straw use. Great to see this level of community engagement in the battle against marine pollution!
Fishing for Litter operates in many of Highland Council’s ports and KIMO continues to lobby the UK government for adequate emergency towing vessel (ETV) provision for Highland Council’s vast coastline. We are very pleased to have Highland Council back as a full-fledged KIMO member – long may the partnership continue.
If you are concerned about marine pollution where you live and your municipality is not yet a member of KIMO, email your local councillor and tell them about the benefits of KIMO membership. We all want clean seas – let’s work together to make it happen.