Towards Osaka Blue Ocean Vision - G20 Implementation Framework for Actions on Marine Plastic Litter

the Republic of Korea

Actions and Progress on Marine Plastic Litter
Last Update : 2020/04/17

Policy framework

a) Section1, Article 24, ‘Marine Environment Management Act’, 2008

b) The 3rd National Marine Litter Management Plan(2019-2023), 2019

c) Act on the Promotion of Saving and Recycling of Resources, 2017

d) Framework Act on Resources Circulation, 2018

e) The 1st National Resource Circulation Plan(2018-2027), 2018

In accordance with Section 1, Article 24, ‘Marine Environment Management Act’, The Ministry of Ocean and Fisheries of Korea(MOF) establishes ‘National Marine Litter Management Plan’ every 5 years to effectively collect and dispose the waste entering the ocean. And The 3rd National Marine Litter Management Plan was established in December, 2018 to tackle down the marine litter issue with more improved and enhanced marine litter policies than previous two national plans. The 3rd National Marine litter Management Plan consists of various policies ranging from collection of marine litter and risk assessment and research on micro-plastic.

Also The Ministry of Environment of Korea(MOE) established ‘Comprehensive management plan for recyclable litter’ according to ‘Act on the promotion of saving and recycling of resources’, which highlights the role of stakeholders(government, manufacturers, consumers) in building environmental-friendly production and consumption structure.

MOE also established ‘the 1st National Resource Circulation Plan’ according to ‘Framework act on resource circulation’. It aims to achieve sustainable circulation economy through enhanced resource circulation. The major strategy of the plan is to establish waste to value infrastructure with public participation and to minimize the production of the waste.


Ⅰ. Prevention and Reduction of Marine Plastic Generation

1.Enhance management of sea-based sources
(1) Introduce a deposit system for fishing gear and buoys
a) Run a project for supporting voluntary recovery of waste Styrofoam buoys
– Fishermen voluntarily dispose of waste Styrofoam buoys, while the nation supports its disposal, simultaneously carrying out information management such as monitoring usage and collection amounts

(2) Strengthen management of derelict fishing gear

a) Push forward a project for voluntary recovery of waste fishing gear
– Expand and implement voluntary recovery projects currently underway for waste Styrofoam buoys to waste fishing gear
b) Strengthen the management of substandard fishing gear
– A total ban on manufacturing, use, import and distribution of substandard fishing gear which results in ocean dumping
c) Expand the distribution of biodegradable fishing gear, improve performance of biodegradable fishing gear by type of fish and study its commercialization
– Develop eco-friendly fishery equipment including fishing gear and nets etc. (develop new designs and alternative materials)
2. Enhance management of land-based sources
(1) Build waste filtering curtain at rivers and estuaries
– Install additional barriers in sea areas where a huge amount of land-based waste is generated resulting from floods and typhoons and improve the efficiency of debris barriers
(2) Manage and minimize microplastic usage in daily products
– Korea banned microplastic usage in cosmetics and medical products, so in line with this policy, Korea government will conduct the research on microplastic usage in daily products and come up with management measures

(3) Reduce the usage of packing materials, and single-use plastic products

3. Enhance management of foreign-based sources
(1) Cooperation with neighboring countries
– Through Northwest Pacific Action Plan(NOWPAP) which is one of UNEP’s regional sea programs, 4 member states(Korea, Japan, China, Russia) are sharing marine litter data and discuss how to tackle marine litter problem in Northwest Pacific region.

(2) Launch international marine plastic litter task force team
– In August 2019, the Ministry of oceans and fisheries launched international marine litter task force team in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and multiple national research organizations. It will focus on identifying the detrimental effect of foreign-based marine litter and responding to the issue through effective countermeasures.

Ⅱ. Environmentally sound waste management and cleanup of marine plastic litter

1. Distribute environment-friendly buoys

– Expand the distribution of eco-friendly buoys in aquaculture farms where Styrofoam buoys are used, continue development of eco-friendly buoys capable of replacing existing Styrofoam buoys

2.Reduce blind spots of collection
(1) Strengthen waste management on islands
a) Establish a waste management system on islands

– Establish collection platforms on islands in order to collect island waste, which is highly likely to reenter the oceans, and build a management system including the deployment of marine debris cleanup vessels and vehicles based on results from waste management research on island regions
(2) Strengthen sunken waste collection in the distant sea areas
a) Collect marine litter deposited in the EEZ

– The country provides support for disposal costs of deposited marine debris pulled up by fishermen during fishing operations, while the government directly carries out a well-devised collection project for deposited marine debris in the future
b) Collect marine litter in areas where marine leisure activities take place etc.
– Establish a network with private diving associations, the military and coast guards and collect marine debris in vulnerable sea areas such as areas where marine leisure activities take place as well as Military Installation Protection Zones
c) Collect waste in Korea-Japan, Korea-China Intermediate Waters
– Collect derelict fishing gear from Korea-Japan Intermediate Waters and the Korea-China Interim Measures Zone in order to improve the environment of fishing grounds and manage fisheries resources
d) A cleanup project for marine litter deposited in the Maritime Peace Zone of the Yellow Sea
– Lay the foundation to preserve the ecosystem and maintain the production of fishing grounds in the Maritime Peace Zone of the Yellow Sea, such as organizing an Inter-Korean Joint Project Consultative Group, starting a pilot project and preparing a collection and disposal plan
– Prepare a mid-to-long term plan and regularly conduct a status survey and collection project for marine debris
(3) Expand existing sunken waste collection projects (fishing grounds and ports)
a) Strengthen management of marine debris at ports managed by local governments
– Identify the present status and management conditions of marine debris at ports managed by local governments and come up with measures for managing marine debris based on cooperation between the central and local governments
– Regularly conduct collection and disposal projects for marine debris at fishing ports managed by local governments
3. Create a collection environment that encourage local participation
(1) provide incentive and reward to local fishing communities
– Induce voluntary participation of fishermen by providing incentives to fishing village cooperatives based on collection records when selecting an Autonomous Management Fishing Community and Fishing Experience Village

(2) Strengthen local government marine litter collection through financial support
a) Encourage local governments to increase local finances and enhance local capacity of waste collection by increasing the ratio of the national subsidy (currently at 30 or 50%) and supporting the securing of cleanup vessels and equipment
b) Discover and support marine waste management projects considering a region’s pending issues and management conditions while offering incentives such as awarding reward (prize money) based on the evaluation of management records of marine debris by local governments
(3) Operation of Marine environment Guard in collaboration with local residents
a) Project for supporting the Guardian of the Ocean Environment
– Deploy the Guardian of the Ocean Environment, a dedicated management workforce, at hot spots of marine debris on a regular basis
3. Efficienate collection system
(1) Efficienate marine litter collection system through marine plastic distribution map
– Analyze sea routes, fishing grounds and characteristics of ocean current to draw a distribution map of marine debris and then utilize it in the collection process

– Create a distribution map of marine debris by forecasting generation and movement routes of marine debris and then increase the efficiency of collection by utilizing the information of hot-spots etc.
(2) Develop vacuum microplastic cleaner devices
– Develop technology to improve on the existing manpower-oriented collection scheme such as devices for removing microplastics at beaches as well as vacuum suction device and portable device for cutting fishing gear

Ⅲ. Promotion of Innovative solutions

1. Build pre-processing facilities and distribute Styrofoam pressers
(1) Pre-processing facilities
– Accelerate eco-friendly treatment or resource recovery of fishery waste, which has been difficult to incinerate or recycle due to the attachment of salt or contaminants
– Install pre-processing facilities for cutting, cracking and cleaning in areas where a large amount of derelict fishing gear is generated, such as ropes and nets
(2) Styrofoam pressers
– Distribute compressors given consumption by region and replace aging facilities with new ones
– Develop and distribute equipment and technology to automate pre-processing procedures including disposal of eco-friendly buoys made of various materials as well as removal of pollutants
– Discover and spread best practices of operational management and assessment of compressors
2. Create a pilot village in which marine debris turns into energy
– Recycle marine debris generated in fishing communities and switch them into a source of energy, supplying to local communities and raise the income of residents as well as improve their living environment based on landscape improvement
3. Develop technology for recycling and resource recovery
(1) Establish a roadmap of technological development for recycling and resource recovery and push ahead technological development
(2)Push forward technological development for recycling marine debris such as developing alternative materials of plastics
(3)Support transportation costs for eco-friendly disposal of shell fragments and start research for expanding the recycling of shell fragments
(4) Establish a mid-to-long term plan for eco-friendly disposal and resource recovery of dead fish
(5) Increase recycling facilities of dead fish and expand its distribution

Ⅳ. Multi-Stakeholder involvement and awareness raising

1. ‘Coastal Clean-up Day’
The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries of Korea announced the third Friday of every month as ‘Coastal Clean-up day’ in July of 2018 and has been holding nation-wide coast clean-up activities ever since. The clean-up activity is open to the public and it involves participation from multi-stakeholders such as oil companies, local fishermen and local governments.

MOU(Memorandum of understanding) between the private sector and the government is also very active. This year, Korean government signed up a MOU with Lotte which is one of the biggest beverage companies in Korea and invited them to join International Coastal clean-up activity and co-hosted the marine plastic litter up-cycling event.

2. Public Awareness Projects
The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries of Korea established the comprehensive annual plan for marine litter public awareness campaigns at the beginning of the year. Through analyzing the result of public awareness campaigns from the previous year, the plan has multiple different strategies to effectively raise public awareness among all groups of people.

(1) Strategy 1 : provide information
– Publication and distribution of marine litter awareness poster
– Publication of educational booklet for fishermen and tourists
– Filming and Broadcasting of public advertisements through various platforms such as Newspaper, TV, Internet, Public transportation

(2) Strategy 2 : public participation
– Public awareness campaigns on the street
– holding multi-stakeholders fora on marine litter policies

(3) Strategy 3 : encourage active participation
– Marine litter UCC and slogan contest
– Public idea contest on Up-cycling and Recycling
– Public idea contest on marine litter policies

Ⅴ. Sharing scientific information and knowledge: R&D and Monitoring

1.Develop Harmonized Monitoring method through NOWPAP regional sea program
– As a member state of UNEP’s regional sea program ‘Northwest Pacific Action plan(NOWPAP)’, Korea has been taking part in various discussions taking place between 4 member states(Korea, Japan, China, Russia) on harmonization of monitoring method and sharing data of marine litter.

Ⅵ. Promotion of International cooperation

1. Strengthening and Improvement for Marine Litter Response in Indonesia
– The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries of Korea and the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs of Indonesia, The Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries developed an ODA project ‘Strengthening and Improvement for Marine Litter Response in Indonesia’ to increase awareness on marine litter through training and education program and to enhance the capacity on marine litter response through marine litter monitoring education program targeting public officials, NGOs, Local residents.
– The first Marine litter monitoring capacity building workshop will be held in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia from 28th of Oct to 1st of Nov. The workshop will contain the overview of international marine litter problem and marine litter policies as well as marine litter monitoring education and practice. Participants will learn how to conduct marine litter monitoring at the beaches of Labuan Bajo and do a pilot marine litter monitoring on 5 different monitoring spots.
– The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries of Korea is planning to invest approximately $250,000 in this project until 2021.


. Environmentally sound waste management and cleanup of marine plastic litter

(a) Total amount of marine litter collected(2014~2018)

(unit : ton)

Type 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Shoreline 53,129 48,547 41,997 48,053 48,464
Sunken 19,353 16,252 24,146 29,662 41,501
Floating 4,454 4,330 4,697 4,461 5,666
Sum 76,936 69,129 70,840 82,176 95,631

(Data from Marine Litter Information System) /


(b) Budget of marine litter collection project(2014~2018)

(unit : 1,000 won)

Type 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Shoreline 26,120,449 18,122,701 15,486,867 22,895,282 24,253,329
Sunken 21,528,865 24,985,553 28,011,750 29,461,816 40,374,334
Floating 7,368,163 8,087,719 8,520,850 8,086,244 230,666
Sum 55,017,477 51,195,973 52,019,467 60,443,342 64,858,329

– The Ministry of Oceans and fisheries of Korea collects marine litter with 11 local governments adjacent to the coast to reduce the amount marine litter.

– To minimize the detrimental effects of marine litter and improve marine environment, The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries is planning to expand its budget for collection project as well as the number of collection sites.

Note: Relevant indicators, data or other numerical information can be included at the discretion of each country, for example: (1) the amount of waste generated, reused, collected, recycled, and properly disposed of; (2) the amount of marine litter cleaned up; (3) the scale of use of innovative technologies and materials including R&D investment; (4) the scale and/or effect of assistance for countries that need technical capacity development including the increased amount of waste properly disposed of. (encouraged to indicate the proportion/elements of plastics and/or microplastics, if available)

Best practices

(1) Campaign for Zero Ocean Plastic

Korean Government announced this year as ‘The first year of the new era of Zero Marine Plastic’ and it has pushed forward multiple public awareness campaigns as well as cross-sectoral clean-up activities such as ‘2019 International Coastal Clean-up ceremony’ where more than 1,000 people participated from corporations, NGOs and schools.

(2) Comprehensive Plan on Marine Litter Reduction(2019)

Republic of Korea has established ‘Comprehensive Plan on Marine Litter Reduction’ in this May. The main purpose of the plan is to reduce marine plastic litter by half and it aims to achieve its goal by 2030 through the introduction of the life-cycle management system of marine plastic litter, enhanced marine plastic litter management infrastructure and promoting wide public participation and so on.

The plan will be implemented through the close cooperation between the Ministry of Ocean and Fisheries of Korea (MOF), the Ministry of Environment of Korea (MOE), the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety of Korea. The plan is in line with ‘G20 Action Plan on Marine Litter’ which was adopted at G20 Hamburg Summit in 2017 and it will further improve Korea’s commitment on reducing marine plastic.

(3) Establishment of Collection system for Broken Styrofoam Buoys 

Abandoned Styrofoam buoys in the oceans are thought to be a major sea-based source of marine plastic litter, as they easily break into little pieces over time. The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries of Korea established Styrofoam Buoys Collection System which provides buoy collection sites to local communities where fishermen can dispose Styrofoam buoys they no longer use

Further information

Marine litter Information System: Offer comprehensive data on marine litter information of Korea to the public.


Contact details

Juyoung Park
Korea Marine Environment Management Corporation

Oh Jung-Keun
National Institute of Environmental Research

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