Scotland launches strategy to deal with mostly plastic marine litter


A strategy for dealing with marine litter has been set out by Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead.

At a cost of £16.8 million each year to clean up, the strategy reveals that the majority of the litter found on Scotland’s beaches and in the seas around it is plastic.


In particular, litter has become a problem for the fishing industry with vessels participating in the Fishing for Litter initiative landing over 374 tonnes of litter between 2011 and 2014. It is estimated that the problem costs every vessel in the Scottish fleet as much as £17,000 annually.

Efforts under the strategy will be focused not just on clearing up the litter, but preventing it in the first place. It is thought that 80 per cent of marine litter originated on land.

Richard Lochhead (pictured) said: “Scotland’s marine environment is one of our greatest assets and it is in everyone’s interest to preserve it. Marine litter is a significant problem and a staggering amount of discarded materials, particularly plastics, wash up on our beaches every single day.”

Marine Conservation Society (MCS) Scotland programme manager Calum Duncan said: “Through our Beachwatch project, the biggest of its kind in Europe and now in its 21st year, thousands of Marine Conservation Society citizen scientists have not only been cleaning their beaches but also gathering proof of the increasing trend in marine litter, bringing into stark focus the scale of the problem.

“We are therefore pleased to see the Scottish Government’s proactive approach to strategically tackle marine litter. The strategy incorporates some MCS recommendations such as extending port waste reception facilities to include fishing vessels, expansion of the KIMO Fishing for Litter initiative, encouraging alternatives to plastic micro beads in personal care products and highlighting the need to tackle sources of sewage related debris.

“The Scottish marine litter strategy provides a great opportunity to enhance education and awareness, as well as providing the tools and input to facilitate change. Marine litter is a wasted resource, and we can all play a part in reducing it.”