Scottish Islands and Marine litter

Scottish Islands and Marine Litter

Scottish islands are at the forefront of the fight against Marine litter. Many of our island communities have been taking action and are carrying out regular beach clean, get involved in plastic nurdles hunts, and campaign for single use plastics to become the norm in their locality.

Action is badly needed: 1 truck load of plastic waste enters the ocean every minute. 

Levels of litter have doubled in the past 20 years on our beaches. Litter has increased by 135% since 1994, with plastics increasing by a staggering 180%. At present, it is estimated one truckload of plastic waste (8 tonnes) enters the ocean every minute.

  • Too much plastic is thrown away or used in unnecessary packaging.
  • Not enough goods are made of recycled plastics and there are not sufficient resources to recycle all types of plastics.
  • Plastics are made from non-renewable resources and consequently much more effort needs to be made to reduce, reuse and recycle all types of plastic.
  • A precautionary approach to the presence of plastic litter in the environment should be taken.
  • Plastic needs to be recognised as a significant and extensive marine pollutant.

The fight for the points above to be recognised  is down to  passionate individuals and communities on our islands. Can we do more? Should we do more?

Tiree Beach Clean champion makes eloquent plea at 2018 S.I.F. AGM   

Tiree Surfer and Beach cleaner Catriona Spink has been collecting Beach plastic consistently over 15 years. She brought her morning collection to the AGM to illustrate the problem which islanders have to deal with all year round. “ We need to do something about Marine litter, the volume we collect is increasing all the time. The time is now.” 

Catriona has recently become involved with Surfers Against Sewage, and will be leading from  Tiree on the Parley Cold Water Islands Project, working with 10 other islands  to share ideas, education and  research. This new project, targeting small cold water islands around the UK, will explore plastic pollution pathways and promote community-based solutions to demonstrate how these microcosms can provide a template for global action towards a plastic-free future.

S.I.F. members support for strong Marine Conservation Society  statement on Marine Plastics

Delegates at the 2018 S.I.F. AGM discussed the  Marine Conservation Society’s Pollution policy and Statement position. 

To take the MCS’s asks to the Scottish Government in a concerted manner and identify how Scottish islands communities can work together to ensure progress on the issue of marine litter, it was decided to set up a special S.I.F. Marine Plastic Working Group. 

The S.I.F. Marine Plastic Working Group supports the following MCS asks:

  • Formulate coherent marine litter strategies and action plans.  
  • Appoint a lead body to implement these strategies.      
  • Commit to having meaningful and ambitious litter targets in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).    
  • Work with signatory countries to ensure the statutory enforcement of waste reduction measures under the OSPAR and MARPOL Conventions.
  • Invest in enforcement of domestic legislation covering the proper disposal and clearance of litter from terrestrial and aquatic environments.
  • Properly enforce current legislation for the protection and progressive improvement of the aquatic environment, and ensure polluters pay costs that truly reflect the damage they cause, in accordance with the Environmental Liability Directive.
  • Ensure that the revised Port Reception Facilities (PRF) regulations bring in a ‘No Special Fee’ system across Europe.
  • Extend existing PRF regulations to include all fishing vessels.
  • Expand national kerbside plastic recycling schemes and infrastructure.
  • Expand business plastic collection and recycling schemes.
  • Ensure that plastics are sent to landfill or Energy from Waste plants only after all other recycling and reuse possibilities have been undertaken.
  • Introduce a drinks bottle and can deposit scheme throughout the UK.
  • Ensure the proper provision, and maintenance, of public litter bins.
  • Fund national, community based educational campaigns to encourage the public to ‘Bag It and Bin It’, reducing the amount of sewage-related debris reaching the environment.
  • Fund research on:
    • The ability of microplastics to adsorb toxins and to be ingested by marine wildlife.  
    •  The potential for these toxins to bioaccumulate up the food chain.                          
    • Increasing the understanding of plastic degradation times and their breakdown products.  
    • Introducing a ‘no blame’ reporting system for reporting lost or abandoned fishing gear.
    • Introducing recycling and disposal facilities for fishing nets and lines at port and harbours.    
    • The impact of liquid plastics on the marine environment.
    •    The sources of ocean-borne litter through major currents and marine industries around the UK                                                                                                                                                              

Let’s work together to take action    

The forthcoming Scottish International Marine Conference is taking place on 20-21 February in Glasgow. and will focus on the sea’s future. Day 1 is about the wider Marine environment, Day 2 will be about tackling Marine Plastics.

S.I.F. would like to send a strong statement to the speakers and the Scottish Government on this issue.  This working group can be the vehicle to bring this statement together, prioritising the list above and asking for concrete action on the part of the Scottish government.

For this to happen quickly we need your input NOW!

Scottish Islands Beach Clean groups are invited to join the S.I.F. Marine Plastic working group.  Please email to register your interest.