Publication - Strategy/plan

Marine litter strategy for Scotland

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

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

Marine litter strategy for Scotland
3. Strategic Directions and actions

3. Strategic Directions and actions

3.1 This section outlines the five objectives for the strategy, which incorporates activity and actions that already exist or are underway within the marine and, where appropriate, the terrestrial context.


Improve public and business attitudes and behaviours around marine and coastal litter, in co-ordination with the national litter strategy

3.2 Research suggests that nearly 80% of marine litter originates from a terrestrial source. Meeting the challenge of addressing marine litter levels will depend on everyone playing their part by recognising and taking responsibility for their own actions.

3.3 There are currently a range of initiatives aimed at reducing marine litter, raising awareness of the problem, or changing behaviour.

Action has to date included:

The Scottish Government, with Zero Waste Scotland, has:

  • Developed a communications toolkit for delivery partners and a behaviour change marketing campaign to discourage littering.
  • Commissioned a drinks container deposit-return scheme feasibility study.
  • Started work to better understand links between enforcement delivery and the legal system.
  • Supported the Transport Litter Group's Litter Week of Action to cut litter on the transport network.
  • Taken forward legislation to:
    • Increase the fixed penalties for litter and flytipping, from £50 each, to £80 and £200 respectively.
    • Create powers for Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, and other public bodies, to issue fixed penalties.
    • Create a requirement for alleged offenders to provide their name and address to enforcement officers.
    • Clarify local authorities' powers regarding the placement and retrieval of bins, in order to reduce accidental litter.
    • Discourage large-scale flytipping, with new powers for SEPA and action to recover landfill tax from illegally deposited wastes by Revenue Scotland and SEPA.
    • Introduce a charging scheme for single-use carrier bags - a highly visible form of litter - from October 2014.

3.4 Action under Strategic Direction 1 will complement current activity with a focus on marine and coastal activities.

New actions:

  • Review possible gaps in education and awareness raising.
  • Work with stakeholders to identify action to address gaps.
  • Education and awareness raising focussed on:
  • Prevalent items of litter found on beaches.
  • Impacts of litter on marine life, including plastics.
  • Promote the KIMO Fishing for Litter [19] project, amongst ports not currently members of the scheme, and align with OSPAR recommendation to promote establishment of the scheme.
  • Impacts of incorrect disposal of non-biodegradable waste on the water and waste network.
  • Encourage producers to change design of products present in the marine environment including alternatives to plastic in cotton bud sticks and plastic micro beads in personal care products.


Reduce marine and coastal based sources of litter, in co-ordination with land sourced litter being reduced by the national litter strategy

3.5 Marine litter stems from two sources: land based sources and sea based sources and there needs to be an integrated approach to address marine litter and stop it at source.

Action has to date included:

  • Ship waste management plans and inspections of Garbage Record Books under the Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution by Garbage and Sewage) Regulations 2008.
  • Zero Waste Scotland research project into the feasibility of recycling and reuse facilities for marine litter and fishing nets at ports.
  • System to report vessels illegally dumping waste at sea.

New actions:

  • Work with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Transport Scotland to investigate the potential for better enforcement of regulation of waste.
  • Extend existing Port Waste Reception Facilities to include fishing vessels.
  • 'No-special-fee' reception facilities for vessels and compulsory discharging of waste in port for all vessels including fishing boats.
  • Research into recycling and reuse facilities for fishing nets at ports.
  • Investigate incorporation of environmental responsibilities into the education and training of ship owners, ship operators, crews, port users, fishermen and recreational boat users.
  • Plastics industry code of conduct for the safe handling, packaging and transportation, by sea of plastic pellets.
  • Give statutory underpinning to marine litter strategy through the policies in the national marine plan.
  • Incorporate marine litter reduction into regional marine plans under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010.
  • Where there is evidence of a specific environmental impact and source of Sewage Related Debris, work with Scottish Water and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency to establish the most cost effective solution and how it might be prioritised within future work programmes.
  • Co-ordination with Zero Waste Scotland activity.
  • Continue and expand support for coastal clean-up and survey activity by volunteers supported by Non-Governmental Organisations such as the Marine Conservation Society and Keep Scotland Beautiful.
  • Expand KIMO Fishing for Litter initiative to contribute to a reduction in marine litter.
  • Implement the OSPAR recommendation to promote the establishment of KIMO Fishing for Litter initiatives in fishing harbours and facilitate:
    • The raising of awareness of the social, economic and ecological impacts of marine litter among fishermen and within the fishing industry;
    • A change in waste management practices within the fishing industry;
    • The direct removal of marine litter from the marine environment in the course of normal fishing activity.
  • Keep under review the potential to enhance and add to existing actions.


Contribute to a low carbon economy by treating 'waste as a resource' and seizing the economic and environmental opportunities associated with the Zero Waste Plan

3.6 The national litter strategy sets out how Scotland can benefit from the economic value of materials which are currently littered. The marine litter strategy aligns with this move towards resource and waste efficiency and recovery.

Action has to date included:

  • Engage with the Low Carbon Economic Strategy for Scotland (March 2011) in particular building opportunities for resource efficiency (energy, water, waste materials) and sustainable business practices across the economy.

New actions:

  • Encourage marine planning partnerships to treat waste as a resource in regional marine plans.
  • Work with Zero Waste Scotland to develop guidance on potential for recycling of collected marine and coastal litter.
  • Consider options for the provision of port and harbour reception facilities to drive separate collection.
  • Consider findings from Zero Waste Scotland project and develop options for delivering an economically viable long term scheme to establish free fishing net disposal at a network of fishing ports across Scotland, to include the infrastructure to recover and recycle the nets and other plastics recovered from fishing operations.
  • Consider additional opportunities to incentivise recycling of marine and coastal litter.
  • Seek investment for more environmental and clean technologies that facilitate recovery, recycling and environmental monitoring in coastal and maritime industries.


Improve monitoring at a Scottish scale and develop measures for strategy evaluation

3.7 It is widely recognised that the current evidence base for the levels of marine and coastal litter is limited, and the strategy seeks to build on existing data capture and management measures so that we can help deliver appropriate and reliable data. This could help provide information on the types, quantities and distribution of marine litter, to provide an insight into the associated problems and threats and to increase public awareness of the condition of the coastline.

3.8 The Marine Strategy Framework Directive is being implemented in a co-ordinated way across the UK Administrations. The second stage of the Directive sets out proposals for UK monitoring programmes to monitor progress towards GES which will be reflected in the strategy. In addition, data collected for MSFD purposes will facilitate reporting on whether the marine litter strategy's aims and objectives are being met.

Action has to date included:

  • Voluntary action through beach litter surveys using best practice techniques.
  • Recording of litter retrieved on Marine Scotland science vessels, and appropriate disposal.
  • Research into monitoring programme for microscopic plastic particles.

New actions:

  • Review appropriate actions in light of agreed monitoring framework for MSFD.
  • Engage with other countries in the further development of indicators for MSFD.
  • Work with the Local Authorities, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Water, Non-Governmental Organisations and others to develop monitoring measures.
  • Develop a monitoring framework for the strategy to evaluate success and identify future priorities.
  • Alignment of Non-Governmental organisations, Scottish, UK and international monitoring programmes and data with UK Marine Monitoring and Assessment Strategy; International Council for the Exploration of the Sea and OSPAR - recognising differences may be needed/accepted.
  • Further develop agreed baseline for coastal, seabed and water column litter, which can be used for Marine Strategy Framework Directive reporting, including where necessary the expansion of existing activity by Marine Conservation Society, Keep Scotland Beautiful and others, as well as developing and standardising methodology in co-ordination with national and EU partners.
  • Prioritise an initial evaluation on the current state of research to give a scientific and technical basis for monitoring, knowledge gaps and priority areas for research.
  • Undertake research to address key gaps in knowledge, including microplastics in the marine and coastal environment.
  • Support Non-Governmental organisations in engaging and sharing knowledge with the plastics industry.
  • Continue to use Marine Scotland research vessels to undertake seabed monitoring of marine litter during scientific trawls, and consider additional monitoring opportunities in other marine activities.


Maintain and strengthen stakeholder co-ordination at the UK, EU and international scales

3.9 Marine litter is a problem that cuts across a variety of scales and requires action from the international to local level. The strategy aims to influence actions within its direct sphere of control and more broadly at the UK, EU and international levels.

Action has to date included:

  • Continue to participate in development of UK proposals for MSFD monitoring and implementation of measures and wider co-ordination with other countries.
  • Continue to participate actively in OSPAR's work on prevention and management of marine litter and work with signatory countries to ensure the statutory enforcement of waste reduction measures under OSPAR and MARPOL.

New actions:

  • National steering group on marine litter, led by Marine Scotland, to co-ordinate approach and share best practice amongst Scottish Government Directorates, agencies and Non-Governmental Organisations and others, including information and resource sharing and prioritising actions for the strategy
  • Marine Scotland to more actively engage with, and share best practice with other competent authorities on a regular basis across Scottish/ UK/ EU/international level.
  • Contribute to OSPAR work to develop a Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter.
  • Ensure that regional marine plans contribute to reduction of marine litter.
  • Ensure Scotland is a positive, reliable and ambitious partner on action to reduce marine litter.