Rene Kokk: Europe needs a clear objective for minimising marine litter

01.10.2020 | 09:13

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On today’s conference of ministers for environment, agriculture and fisheries of the Baltic Sea countries, the ministers stated that the goal of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive – good environmental status of the Baltic Sea by 2020 – has not been achieved. The most urgent challenges of the Baltic Sea are high level of contaminants and marine litter, besides eutrophication. A new Ministerial Declaration was signed to improve the status of the Baltic Sea.

Rene Kokk, Minister of the Environment, stated at the meeting that Estonia has developed a Marine Litter Plan and that Europe must also set clear goals for minimising marine litter.

“The global plastic pollution endangering the sea is a deepening problem also for the Baltic Sea. The marine litter problem as such is the result of inadequate waste management on land. If plastic reaches the sea, its collection and capturing will be very difficult, sometimes impossible. For us it is important that on global, European Union as well as on regional level specific, measurable goals shall be set for minimising plastic and that those goals shall be implemented,” Minister of the Environment stated.

The recently prepared Estonian Marine Litter Plan highlights measures, how to focus more on cleanliness of beach areas, waste management in harbours, end-of-pipes flowing into the sea, innovative technical marine waste collection methods and wider communication in the future.

Ministers for environment, agriculture and fisheries from eight EU member states (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden) participated in the conference, signing the Ministerial Declaration. With the Declaration the countries confirmed that they have commitments to improve the marine environmental status of the Baltic Sea, which they shall carry out. 

Today’s Ministerial Conference was organised by the European Commission. Instead of the Our Baltic Conference, which was first planned to take place in Palanga, the signing of the Ministerial Declaration took place in the Internet and it was organised by Virginijus Sinkevičius, the Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries.