Cleaning up Scotland's waters

Views sought on Marine Litter Strategy

Better recycling of fishing equipment and changing what we flush down the toilet could help cut the amount of litter in Scotland’s waters.

These proposals are included in a consultation on an updated Marine Litter Strategy, which aims to prevent litter reaching our seas and shores, remove rubbish from the marine environment, and strengthen monitoring.

Fishing and aquaculture nets and gear are currently difficult to recycle as these are usually made of multiple materials.

Adopting a circular design, with standardised materials, would make dismantling and recycling easier. This would enable re-use of valuable materials and reduce the amount of waste that could potentially end up in the water.

The draft strategy also includes measures to prevent items like wet wipes and sanitary products from entering our seas through the sewage system.

Actions include improvements to sewage system infrastructure and an awareness campaign to promote behaviour change and highlight inappropriate flushing of sanitary items.

To help curb plastic pellet pollution, the strategy includes the development of a certification scheme for businesses handling plastic pellets, with this work to be undertaken in collaboration with the plastics industry.

Launching the consultation, Environment Minister Mairi McAllan said:

“Marine litter is a global challenge and we are determined to play our full part in addressing it. That’s why we’re asking for views on a range of actions that would help cut the amount of litter and plastic in Scotland’s seas.

“Fishing litter and lost gear poses an ever-present risk to marine life, and we are working with the sector to improve waste management and recycling of gear.

“The actions we take at home can also help keep litter out of our waters. Flushing inappropriate items can cause great harm to our marine environment, and by being aware of this and changing our habits we can all protect our precious seas and wildlife.”  


The consultation runs until 22 March 2022. Responses will be used to inform the new strategy which will be published in 2022.


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