Marine litter strategy

This refreshed marine litter strategy outlines new priority actions to tackle marine litter in Scotland, building on the work already conducted through the original strategy.

Ministerial Foreword

Scotland's marine environment is wonderfully rich and diverse, home to an abundance of species and a fantastic natural asset for our communities, way of life and our action against climate change and nature loss. The Scottish Government has a role as guardian of our marine ecosystem to protect and enhance it, to ensure that our seas are clean, healthy and can be enjoyed for generations to come.

Marine litter continues to pose a threat to environments and populations around the world. It must be tackled but it is a truly global issue and Scotland cannot tackle it alone. We must work in collaboration with other countries to help to reduce sources of marine litter and its impacts. Scotland is well-placed to work with neighbouring countries in the North East Atlantic through the framework of the OSPAR Convention, and we are using our influence, energy and experience to help make progress on this important issue.

The Marine Litter Strategy for Scotland was first published in 2014 and serves to co-ordinate action on marine litter throughout the whole of Scotland. This is an issue that can only be addressed if all sectors take responsibility, from local and national government, businesses, to the third sector and individual citizens. Since its initial publication, Scotland has continued to make important advances towards reducing marine litter, such as being the first nation in the UK to introduce a ban on plastic-stemmed cotton buds, by introducing a ban on plastic microbeads in toiletries, as well as reducing litter from plastic bags through the carrier bag levy.

The updated Strategy will build on this positive work, with action planned on sewage-related debris, plastic pellets, and fishing and aquaculture gear. The Action Plan will drive forward effective change over the coming years to further protect our environment and help grow our circular economy.

The majority of marine litter originates from land-based sources, so it is important that this Strategy will continue to operate in parallel with its terrestrial equivalent, the National Litter and Flytipping Strategy. This alignment will help to ensure that all sources and pathways of marine litter are addressed.

I am committed to the successful implementation of this Strategy, using our current achievements as a foundation, working collaboratively with delivery partners, and maintaining our close association with the National Litter and Flytipping Strategy. For the Strategy to meet its goals it will require all sections of society to contribute, from individuals to industry, and I am certain that by working together we can better protect our precious marine environment for nature, for the climate and for our communities.

Mairi McAllan

Minister for Environment and Land Reform

September 2022



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