Swimming in plastic soup: Governance solutions to the marine debris problem

Stream: Panel 16 - Environmental Politics: Environmental Governance and Policymaking in Australia and Beyond
Date: Monday, 26 September 2016
Time: 2.00 pm – 3.30 pm

Abstract

Plastic marine debris has been found in every ocean and coastal area in the world (STAP 2011; Ivar do Sul & Costa 2014). The impacts on the marine ecosystem are profound with nearly 700 marine species being found to interact with marine debris through ingestion and/or entanglement (Gall & Thompson 2015; GEF 2012). It is estimated that three quarters or more of litter in our ocean comes from land-based sources (Hardesty et al. 2014) making this as much a transboundary global problem as a local issue. Governance arrangements, at present, are unable to provide the necessary solutions to large scale mitigation, prevention and/or removal of marine debris. We examine the governance arrangements on a global level, and Australia’s national and local policy responses. We identify community and market based strategies that are making progress with prevention and removal where government policies are lagging behind. We argue that a new, legally binding international agreement will provide guidance to mitigation on a global scale and that nationally a large scale integrated policy approach can make a difference to the marine debris problem in Australian waters. Integrated policy approaches, also known as type VIII policies (Howlett and del Rio 2015) are regarded as the most complex and difficult policy mixes. Despite being been prone to policy failure as suggested by Vince (2015), we argue that due to the complex, transboundary nature of the marine debris problem and the urgency for mitigation, it is the policy solution that may be most effective.

Authors

Joanna Vince (Presenter), University of Tasmania
Dr Joanna Vince is a Senior Lecturer in the Politics and International Relations Program, School of Social Sciences, University of Tasmania.

Britta Denise Hardesty, CSIRO
Dr Britta Denise Hardesty is a Senior Research Scientist with the CSIRO's Oceans and Atmosphere Flagship.