Marine and coastal litter has multiple causes and is a challenging problem involving land and marine issues. Marine Scotland is leading the implementation of a Scottish marine litter strategy.
The Scottish Government launched Scotland’s first Marine Litter Strategy in 2014. The Strategy aims to reduce litter entering the sea and recognises that any marine litter, including plastics, poses a potential risk to the environment, economy and society.
The Strategy also helps Scotland to meet our obligations under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive to achieve good environmental status in our marine waters by 2020 and the requirement that “the properties and quantities of marine litter do not cause harm to the coastal and marine environments”.
The Strategy includes over 40 actions such as encouraging companies to produce alternatives to plastic microbeads, and includes the need for a plastics industry code of conduct for the safe handling, packaging and transportation by sea, of plastic pellets. It also includes continued support for the Fishing for Litter initiative.
Central to the strategy is the need for a co-ordinated approach to tackle this problem through partnership working and to influence individuals’ behaviours. A stakeholder Steering Group was set up to support implementation and monitoring of the Strategy which will be reviewed in 2020.
Scotland’s National Marine Plan underpins the strategy and includes marine planning policy to ensure measures are taken to address marine litter.