International Law Instruments To Address The Plastic Soup
Luisa Cortat Simonetti Goncalves and Michael Gerbert Faure,International Law Instruments To Address The Plastic Soup, 43 Wm. & Mary Envtl. L. & Pol'y Rev. 871 (2019)
79 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2019 Last revised: 30 Jun 2019
Date Written: February 18, 2019
The problem of the plastic pollution of the oceans is increasingly evident after 1997, when the great concentrations of plastics in the oceans was widely publicized. Still, there is a substantial lack of scientific data and research about the plastic pollution sources, destinations and consequences to nature and human life. The only certainty is that the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean is alarming and does not tend to decrease any time soon, because of its durability and large range of use. Estimates show that, each year, at least 8 million tons of plastics leak into the ocean and, if no action is taken, this is expected to double by 2030 and to be multiplied by four by 2050. As a result, until 2050 there would be more plastic than fish in the ocean. This paper focuses on international legal pathways to face such a problem. It constitutes the basis for further research that aims at constructing a legal framework to adequately face the problem of the plastic pollution of the oceans. In order to do so, the first step is to unveil the already existing international instruments – both hard and soft law. It is indispensable to accomplish this intermediate step because a great part of such pollution is in international waters, where the only legal regulations and remedies applicable are those from Public International Law. Solely by knowing the state-of-the-art of this approach is it possible to critically analyze its possibilities and limitations, as well as to suggest how to proceed. Therefore, this paper aims at first analyzing whether the international instruments deal with the plastic soup issue, both from the ex ante and from the ex post perspectives. After showing that the current efforts are not compatible with the current harms and threats of the plastic pollution of the oceans, we raise suggestions on possible pathways and approaches to surpass the obstacles and to start facing the problem of the plastic pollution of the oceans.
Keywords: plastic pollution, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, pollution from ships, responsible fisheries, property rights, taxation plastic waste
JEL Classification: K32, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation