Fishermen from around Scotland’s coast have recently landed the 1,000th tonne of marine litter caught in their nets during normal fishing trips.
The bumper haul – enough to fill almost three Olympic-sized swimming pools – was collected as part of the Fishing for Litter campaign and landed at Peterhead port last week.
Fishing for Litter was introduced into Scottish waters by KIMO UK in 2005. The campaign encourages skippers of fishing vessels to land litter they catch in their nets during their normal fishing activities.
Currently, 17 harbours are participating in the project, allowing litter to be landed at their harbour by more than 210 fishing vessels.
KIMO UK’s chairman, Cllr Raymond Christie, said: “Reaching this milestone is a great achievement and I would like to thank all of the crews who took part for their fantastic efforts to help protect our precious marine environment and shoreline.”
The campaign is supported by a number of partners, including The Crown Estate, which has invested £170,000 over the lifetime of the project, and the Scottish Fisherman’s Trust.
Paul Bancks, The Crown Estate’s marine coastal asset manager, said: “Marine and coastal litter is a problem that affects communities, visitors and biodiversity across the world. Here in Scotland, the volume of litter caught and responsibly disposed of by fishing boat crews is testimony to their dedication and willingness to play their part in eradicating litter from our coasts and seas.
"The Crown Estate has supported the Fishing for Litter project for a number of years and reaching this milestone is an impressive achievement by all concerned”.
Marine litter, much of which is plastic, originates from many sources including a significant amount from the general public. If left in the sea, it would gradually break down into smaller pieces, which have the potential to impact the marine food chain.
Stewart Stevenson, MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, added: “Our north-east coastline provides a livelihood for thousands of people, as well as providing a habitat for countless species of marine lifestyle.
"Therefore, it’s our duty to protect it and I applaud our local fisherman for going above and beyond to remove as much litter from our waters.”