Australian Water Law as a potential model for combatting plastic waste pollution along South Africa's coastline
The predominant role of the oceans, seas and marine resources as a source of life is recognised globally. The international community’s commitment to protect and conserve the ocean and its resources is demonstrated by the fact that the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development dedicated one of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) solely to its promotion: SDG 14 sets out to “conserve and sustainably use of the oceans, seas and marine resources…” The UN Environment Programme Clean Seas Campaign took an aggressive step in banning single-use plastic products and packaging, as well as recycling plastic wastes. Despite these initiatives, an array of environmental concerns, including plastic pollution, continue to threaten the sustainability of marine resources, the ocean and national seas. Surely, a strong and justiciable regulatory framework is necessary to ensure the protection and sustainable use of the marine environment and its ecosystems. The absolute need to examine the regulatory framework is exacerbated by the fact that oceans and coastlines are suffocating as a result of plastic pollution. Even with existing regulatory tools to combat pollution, the South African legal framework falls short with immediate solutions. This study considers how the Australian regulatory framework addresses marine plastic pollution and considers how it may improve the interpretation and development of the South African legal framework pertaining to plastic waste pollution along South Africa’s coastline. As a contextual starting point, this research paper considers the international regulatory framework of at-sea disposal of plastic waste. In doing so, it sets out the significance of the international framework for signatory states. A separate section examines the South African regulatory framework and continues to analyse and contextualise a foreign legal system, being the Australian regulatory framework. The study explores innovative Australian legal approaches that addresses marine plastic pollution. As such, Australia’s regulatory framework provides valuable lessons on tackling plastic pollution in order to, as per SDG 14 “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources” along South Africa’s coastline.
- Law