To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of law enforcement for crimes involving the illegal dumping of commercial fishing equipment in UK waters; and if he will make a statement.
15 April 2021
The UK has been party to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution by Garbage from Ships (MARPOL Annex V) since 1988, and the international requirements have been implemented in UK law through the 1998 and 2008 UK Regulations. Under these Regulations, discharge of all garbage into the sea is prohibited with very limited exceptions and in all cases the discharge of plastic is prohibited. In 2020 the Regulations were further revised to reflect the current international requirements.
During the 2020 revisions, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) carried out a thorough review of the existing offences and penalties. As a result of this review, the scope of the type of garbage which may not be discharged to sea was widened. Under the 2020 Regulations it is an offence to fail to report the discharge of fishing gear which poses a significant threat to the marine environment or navigation.
The UK’s Port Waste Reception Facilities Regulations (S.I. 2003/1809) put legal obligations on ports and vessels to manage ship generated waste including fishing gear. The MCA has received ministerial approval to review the UK’s current regime on Port Waste Reception Facilities and this review will start in spring 2021.