Marine litter currently poses a dire, vast and growing threat to the marine and coastal environment. Any persistent, manufactured or processed solid material disposed of or abandoned in the marine and coastal environment can be defined as marine litter. Marine litter is found in all sea areas of the world-not only in densely populated regions, but also in remote places far away from any obvious sources. Most marine litter consists of material that degrades slowly, so a continuous input of large quantities of these items results in a gradual build-up in the marine and coastal environment.
Marine litter is an environmental, economic, health and aesthetic problem. It causes damage and death to wildlife. It threatens marine and coastal biological diversity in productive coastal areas. Pieces of litter can transport invasive species between seas. Medical and sanitary waste constitutes a health hazard and can seriously injure people.
Marine litter comes from sea-based and land-based. So the measures to reduce or prevent it must be taken in a large number of places, within a large number of activities in a wide range of societal sectors, and by many people in many situation.
Recently, international attention is focusing more and more on the problem of marine litter and this is becoming an issue of local, national, regional and global concern. Even the General Assembly of UN did address the problem of marine litter through the UN Assembly Resolution A/60/L.22-Ocean and the Law of the Sea-in November 2005. It is hoped that this resolution of the UN General Assembly will bring the issue of marine litter to the centre of global attention and concern and will serve as legal and programmatic platform for the developing of relevant national, regional and global initiatives to challenge the problem of marine litter.
Considering the wide range of sources of marine litter, measures to address the problem have to be equally comprehensive in their approach at the global, regional or national level.
But the situation, globally as well as regionally, does not seem to be improving, despite actions taken globally, regionally and by a number of individual countries. Marine litter is increased every year and there is generally a lack of appropriate management of marine litter.
Marine litter is not only an environmental problem that can be solved solely by means of legislation, law enforcement and technical solutions. It is also a cultural problem and has to be addressed as such, namely by efforts to change attitudes, behaviors, management approaches, education and involvement of all sectors/interests, including the public at large. Thus, there is no single solution to the marine litter problem. Rather, marine litter should be addressed through a wide range of carefully targeted and integrated measures.
The objectives of this study are to analyze the current legal regime for prevention of marine litter in global, regional, national level. In particular, it focuses on the East-Asia Seas in relation to Korea.