IORA memberKenya is committed to fighting against plastic pollution and appears to be one of the first countries in East Africa to limit single-use plastics since 2017. It has been investing extensively both in policies and law enforcement.

Like many countries, Kenya has also struggled with plastic waste along its Indian Ocean coast and in its lakes. As a result, Kenya’s national and devolved country-level governments are establishing a plastic waste management program.

UNEP regional director for Africa, Juliette Biao, has recently congratulated Kenya for banning plastic bottles, cups, and cutlery in its national parks in June 2020, and to the country-wide prohibition on plastic bags. She also added that Kenya’s efforts to stem the flow of plastic into its waterways is an essential step in reducing marine litter.

Kenya decided to sign on to the Clean Seas Initiative to reduce plastic pollution in its waterways. Biao suggests that with adequate policies, investments in sustainable infrastructure and protecting ecosystems, Kenya’s maritime territory (which stretches nearly 230,000 square kilometers) could boost the value of its blue economy.

A sustainable blue economy could count on maritime resources to increase the job market and stimulate economic growth while ensuring the health of the ocean ecosystem.

Kenya’s policies bring to mind initiatives promoted by Italy, such as the “Flotta spazzina (sweeper fleet) aimed at improving the condition of the seas has been launched.

Italy, together with Corepla, the National Consortium for the recovery of plastic packaging, is determined to clean the seas from waste, especially plastic.

Proposed by the Ministry of the Environment and approved by the Government, the Salvamare decree creates the first anti-pollution fleet: boats with different sizes equipped to “fish” floating garbage, marine litter. It will operate along all the coasts of the country and is composed of thirty-two naval units, dispatched in various Italian ports from Genoa to Civitavecchia and Salerno to guarantee an immediate intervention in the event of pollution.

Until 2019, Italian fishermen had no choice but to throw back the plastic that was accidentally caught in their nets. Bringing it back to shore would make them fall under the crime of illegal waste transport. Thus they would have been considered waste producers, having pay for its disposal.

Thanks to the Salvamare decree, this process has changed, fishermen can obtain an environmental certificate, and will be adequately recognized. The collected waste can be taken back to the ports where collection points are set up, and some reward mechanisms have been introduced for the fishermen.

This new practice is called “Fishing for Litter” and was initiated in Scotland in 2005 to clean the sea with the help of the fishermen. The fishermen who participate in the project would separate the waste accidentally trapped in the nets for the fish and store it on board in specific bags to be delivered free of charge in a container once ashore.

Between 2014 and 2016, 124 fishing boats located in Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, and Greece removed 122 tons of waste from the sea, mainly plastic, thanks to the implementation of Fishing for Litter pilot projects in the context of the European project DeFishGear, of which ISPRA was a partner.

Similar initiatives could certainly be developed with IORA Countries, within the framework of the Italy-IORA partnership. (Read more on UNEP; Corriere )

Badriyya Soltanli