International action on marine plastics

Wednesday 29 June 2022
We have all heard of the term ‘micro-plastics’, but the amount of plastic waste in our oceans is huge!
Marine pollution

According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), by 2050, the quantity of plastics in the oceans will outweigh fish. Plastics of all kinds are a massive problem in our marine environments, affecting marine fauna and flora, and people’s livelihoods, and health. 

AMSA is engaged in the ongoing work of the IMO to reduce marine pollution. In 2021, the IMO adopted a strategy to address marine plastic litter from ships. This sets out goals to reduce plastic in the oceans in several ways: 

  • Reducing plastic waste from fishing vessels 
  • Reducing shipping's contribution to marine plastic litter  
  • Improving port facilities for the disposal and recycling of plastics, and  
  • Raising awareness and instigating action through public education and training programs. 

The IMO strategy is accompanied by an action plan, which outlines a number of actions to reduce marine plastic litter. AMSA is currently working with the IMO to implement these actions by 2025.  

Find out more about this important campaign.  

New requirements for Garbage Record Books 

The IMO is working to adopt new garbage record book requirements for ships of 100 gross tonnage and above. Once adopted, these ships will be required to maintain a garbage record book in addition to a garage management plan. These new requirements are expected to commence in May 2024. 

Garbage record books are currently only required for vessels of 400 gross tonnage and above, and vessels certified to carry 15 or more people engaged in international voyages.   

Keep checking the AMSA website for updates on garbage record book requirements. 

Domestic action on marine plastics 

Under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) and Australian legislation, plastic waste—including fishing gear—cannot be discharged into the ocean. Vessel operators can face significant fines for illegally dumping plastic waste at sea.  

Help keep our seas clean by reporting any illegal dumping. If you see someone dumping plastic waste or other garbage, there is some information you can collect to help AMSA investigate the incident. Useful information includes: 

  • vessel name 
  • time, date and location of the incident (distance from land, GPS coordinates) 
  • details of how much and what type of waste was dumped, and 
  • other witnesses or vessels in the vicinity. 

Report illegal dumping of plastic waste or other substances to AMSA on 1800 641 792 (free call) or 02 6230 6811, or by visiting  Marine pollution