Plastic Free July: AMSA’s action to reduce marine plastics

Tuesday 2 July 2024
Plastic Free July encourages millions worldwide to reduce plastic consumption and find sustainable alternatives. As the national maritime regulator, we commit to reducing ocean plastics that harm our precious marine environment. To do this we work both internationally and at home. 
Plastic free July image of a plastic bottle floating in water

Working with the IMO

We are part of ongoing environmental work of the International Maritime Organi szation (IMO). In 2021, the IMO adopted a strategy to address marine plastic litter from ships, setting out goals such as:

  • reducing plastic waste from fishing vessels
  • reducing shipping's contribution to marine plastic litter
  • improving port facilities for the disposal and recycling of plastics
  • raising awareness and action through public education and training programs.

AMSA supports these goals through several initiatives.

New requirements for garbage record books

Garbage Record Books are vital in keeping track of the management and disposal of garbage on ships. New global requirements under the MARPOL Convention took effect in May 2024. These relate to holding and maintaining a garbage record book for vessels of 100 gross tonnage and above.Australian legislation will be updated in due course to apply the requirements domestically, including domestic commercial vessels and pleasure craft.

The new requirements will play a vital role in reducing the discharge of plastics in our oceans. Failure to meet the requirements can result in vessel being issued with a deficiency or being detained.

Learn more about garbage record books

Proposed requirements for fishing gear

Lost or discarded fishing gear makes up a significant portion of plastics in our oceans. To address this problem, the IMO has agreed to expand existing reporting requirements for abandoned, lost or discarded commercial fishing gear.

The reporting requirements will:

  • discourage the discharge of fishing gear
  • encourage reporting of lost or discharged fishing gear
  • support safe retrieval of lost or discharged fishing gear.

The IMO is also considering global fishing gear marking requirements which will help identify where gear is from.

Learn more about Australia's work to support the new requirements. 

Preventing the loss of plastic pellets transported by sea in freight

Plastic pellets spilt from damaged freight containers and ships presents a significant risk to the environment. The pellets are dispersed by wind, waves and ocean currents and accidentally eaten by wildlife.

The IMO is taking steps to address the environmental risks linked to the maritime transport of plastic pellets.

Recommendations have been developed to reduce the risk of spills. The recommendations include changes to packaging, identification of plastic pellets, and the stowage of plastic pellets transported by sea freight.

United Nations Environment Programme Plastics Treaty

Additionally, we are supporting the Australian government at the United Nations Environment Assembly to develop an international treaty on plastic pollution, which includes the marine environment.

The global plastic treaty will address plastic pollution through its lifecycle, including its production, design, and disposal.

Please join us this July by considering and implementing ways to reduce your plastic use. Be part of the solution to one of the world's most pressing environmental problems.

Related news