A NEW initiative to help reduce litter at sea has been launched by Kimo UK.
The Fishing for Litter 2008-11 Scotland project provides large hardwearing bags which can store the rubbish trawled up by boats as a result of fishing activities. This rubbish can then be collected and deposited on the quayside.
A voluntary project has already been operating in 15 harbours throughout Scotland since 2005 and benefits are already being seen, with 117 tonnes of litter removed from the seabed so far.
Widespread damage and problems caused by sea pollution affect both the environment and the fishing industry. Marine litter remains one of the most significant environmental problems, which affects the marine environment on a worldwide scale.
Despite legislation and programmes aimed at tackling pollution, around 20,000 tonnes is dumped into the North Sea alone every year. Of that, 70 per cent sinks to the seabed, 15 per cent floats on the surface and 15 per cent washes up on beaches. Currently only the proportion that washes ashore is targeted by clean-up and awareness campaigns.
Studies as part of the Save the North Sea project showed that 96 per cent of fulmars in the North Sea had plastics in their stomachs and a recent study by Plymouth University has highlighted the abundance of microscopic plastic fragments in the marine environment.
The cost to the fishing industry can be as much as £30,000 per boat per year as a result of contaminated catches, broken gear and fouled propellers.
The work done by Kimo and Scottish fishermen to clean up seas was welcomed by Scottish fishing minister Richard Lochhead.
He said: “As the Scottish government prepares to launch its landmark Marine Bill next year, it is absolutely vital that we have cleaner, greener seas.
“Fishing for Litter is an imaginative yet simple initiative, successfully reducing marine litter with the involvement of the fishing industry. I am very pleased that the Scottish government has been able to support the project. I wish it every success for the future.”
The project launch coincides with the publication of Kimo’s 2005-08 report.