Michael J. Bean

Document Type

Article Restricted

Publication Date


Journal Title

Marine pollution bulletin

Volume Number


Issue Number

6, Supplement B

First Page


Last Page



A variety of legal strategies could be employed to address aspects of the problem of persistent plastics in the marine environment. These include strategies based on international agreements, federal legislation, and state law. At the international level, plastic pollution from vessels is addressed by the International Convention Relating to Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), though its operative provisions are not yet in force. Vesselsource pollution can also be addressed, with varying degrees of effectiveness, through pollution laws, fishery and wildlife conservation laws, and fishing gear compensation programmes. These authorities provide a diverse set of opportunities for addressing the entanglement problem, though realizing such opportunities is likely to require an expanded perception on the part of their administrators of the types of hazards addressed by the pollution laws. Various state measures focus primarily on reducing or preventing the problem of generation of plastic pollution from land-based sources. These include several laws that impose degradability standards for certain plastic products or attempt to encourage recycling of plastic waste. The experiences of various states that have enacted such laws are described and recommendations are made with respect to needed measures for more effective implementation of such laws.