Publication - Strategy/plan

Marine litter strategy for Scotland

Published: 19 Aug 2014
Directorate:
Marine Scotland Directorate
Part of:
Marine and fisheries
ISBN:
9781784127480

A strategy to develop measures to minimise the amount of litter entering the marine and coastal environment.

34 page PDF

771.3 kB

34 page PDF

771.3 kB

Contents
Marine litter strategy for Scotland
1. Introduction

34 page PDF

771.3 kB

1. Introduction

Definition of marine litter

1.1 Marine litter is any persistent, manufactured or processed solid material discarded, disposed of, or abandoned in the marine and coastal environment. Marine litter consists of items that have been made or used by people and deliberately discarded or unintentionally lost into the sea or coastline including such materials transported into the marine environment from land by rivers, drainage or sewerage systems or wind. Typical examples are plastics, wood, metals, glass, rubber, clothing and paper. This definition does not include semi-solid remains of for example mineral and vegetable oils, paraffin and chemicals that sometime litter sea and shores [1] .

Background

1.2 Marine litter poses a number of problems across the economy, environment and society. These detrimental effects include damage to marine wildlife as well as wider ecosystem deterioration, public health issues and impacts on aesthetics and a wider range of economic impacts across industries reliant on our coastal and marine environment.

1.3 Marine litter threatens the realisation of a shared vision for 'clean, healthy, safe, productive, biologically diverse marine and coastal environments, managed to meet the long term needs of nature and people' and may also impact upon Scotland's Strategic Objectives, most notably the drive to become a Greener, Wealthier & Fairer, Safer & Stronger and Healthier Scotland. It is essential that Scotland's marine and coastal resource is protected from the damage caused by marine litter.

1.4 A draft marine litter strategy was published for consultation from 3 July to 27 September 2013. Ninety-eight responses were received and a number of amendments have been incorporated into the final strategy.

1.5 The strategy sets out Scotland's approach to ensuring that the amount of litter entering the marine environment is minimised to bring ecological, economic and social benefits.

Current activity

1.6 A range of legislation and regulatory tools exist to inform and implement a Scottish marine litter strategy from the international, European and national scales. These include, but are not limited to the:

  • International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships [2] ;
  • European Marine Strategy Framework Directive [3] ;
  • European Directive on Port Reception Facilities for Ship-generated Waste and Cargo Residues [4] ;
  • Bathing Waters(Scotland) Regulations 2008 [5] ;
  • EU Water Framework Directive [6]
  • Environmental Protection Act (1990) [7] ;
  • Merchant Shipping (Port Waste Reception Facilities) Regulations 2003 [8] ;
  • Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 [9] . The management of litter, while not directly specified under the Act, falls under the scope of marine planning;
  • International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships ( MARPOL) Annex V (Garbage), 1 January 2013 [10] ;
  • Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012 [11] ;
  • European Strategy on plastic waste which encourages Member States to take legislative or non-legislative measures in order to strengthen re-use and the prevention, recycling and other recovery operations of waste [12] ;
  • Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive [13] .

1.7 The purpose of the Scottish Government's national litter strategy 'Towards a Litter-Free Scotland' is to influence individuals' behaviours through information, infrastructure and enforcement, with a focus on prevention. It has strong links with the marine litter strategy - where marine litter is washed up on shore, or where land-based litter is washed out to sea.

Marine Strategy Framework Directive

1.8 The Marine Strategy Framework Directive ( MSFD) is a key driver for addressing the problem of marine and coastal litter. The Directive requires Member States to prepare national strategies to manage their seas to achieve Good Environmental Status ( GES) [14] by 2020. Major emphasis is placed on international cooperation.

Key requirements of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive:

  • An assessment of the current state of UK seas.
  • A detailed description of what GES means for UK waters, with a set of associated targets and indicators.

The two elements (above) form the UK Marine Strategy Part One [15] .

  • Establishment of a monitoring programme to measure progress toward Good Environmental Status by July 2014.
  • Establishment of a programme of measures for achieving Good Environmental Status by 2016.

1.9 The Directive defines GES in terms of 11 descriptors. Descriptor 10 requires litter to be at levels where the "properties and quantities of marine litter do not cause harm to the coastal and marine environments".

1.10 The UK Government's response to the MSFD consultation (the initial assessment and determination of the characteristics of GES, 2012), published in December 2012 [16] , sets out implementation of the initial stages of the Directive. The MSFD target for marine litter on coastlines is for an "Overall reduction in the number of visible litter items within specific categories/types on coastlines from 2010 levels by 2020". This objective recognises the limitations in data currently available to support a target for a specific percentage reduction in coastal litter and, based on current expert advice, has been included in the UK's set of GES targets.

1.11 The second stage of the MSFD, to be completed by July 2014, is for Member States to put in place monitoring programmes to measure progress towards achieving and maintaining GES. The final stage is the implementation of management measures to achieve GES by 2020.

Table 1: UK Marine Strategy Part 1 targets and indicators for Descriptor 10 [17]

GES characteristics for marine litter

Characteristics of GES for Descriptor 10 (marine litter)

The draft UK characteristics of GES for the Descriptor are as follows:

The amount of litter, and its degradation products, on coastlines and in the marine environment is reducing over time and levels do not pose a significant risk to the coastal and marine environment, either as a result of direct mortality such as through entanglement, or by way of indirect impacts such as reduced fecundity or bioaccumulation of contaminants within food chains.

GES targets for marine litter

Targets and indicators for Descriptor 10 - Characteristics of Litter in the Marine Environment

Overall reduction in the number of visible litter items within specific categories/types on coastlines.

MSFD Indicator: Trends in the amount of litter washed ashore and/or deposited on coastlines, including analysis of its composition, spatial distribution and, where possible, source.

Surveillance indicator to monitor the quantities of litter on the seafloor.

MSFD Indicator: Trends in the amount of litter in the water column (including floating at surface) and deposited on the sea floor, including analysis of its composition, spatial distribution and, where possible, source.

Surveillance indicator to monitor the amounts of plastic found in the contents of fulmars stomachs as a method of determining litter floating at the surface (in line with the OSPAR [18] Ecological Quality Objective).

MSFD Indicator: Trends in the amount of litter in the water column (including floating at surface) and deposited on the sea floor, including analysis of its composition, spatial distribution and, where possible, source.


Contact