The Scottish Government is consulting on new priority actions to tackle marine litter in Scotland. Responses to the consultation will inform the final updated Marine Litter Strategy and action plan before it is published. This consultation is one of the final stages in the process of updating the Marine Litter Strategy for Scotland.
A large amount of work has already been undertaken with guidance from the Marine Litter Strategy Steering Group. Marine Scotland is now seeking input from the public and other organisations to finalise the strategy and action plan before it is published. In 2021, Marine Scotland worked with partners and stakeholders to consider which areas were of most concern and what specific actions could effect a positive change.
These actions have been agreed as work that can be realistically achieved within the next six years. Each action has a timeframe, a responsible lead organisation, and a tangible output that can be measured. The purpose of this consultation is to seek views on the range of actions that have been identified as priorities to guide our work over the next six years. Analysis of consultation responses will ensure the final approach and will be used to finalise the Marine Litter Strategy and Action Plan.
Also in Scotland, George Monbiot reported on fishermen pulling in more nets than fish. On trip after trip they catch vast hauls of ghost gillnets and longlines, often wrapped around marine animals. The problem, he says, lies with large vessels, many from France and Spain, that spend four to six weeks at a time at sea. They don’t have enough storage space for the rubbish they generate: most of the hold is dedicated to frozen fish. Worn-out gillnets and longlines should be returned to port for disposal. But those retrieved have a revealing characteristic: the expensive parts, those that can be reused – floats, weights and hooks – have been cut off. This, he believes, is a giveaway: if you find a net or line like that, it has been deliberately thrown overboard.
A previous Scottish Government report stated that representatives of fishing industry bodies argue that no Scottish fisher would intentionally dump waste where it can later cause problems for themselves and other fishers, entangling their nets, propellers and other gear if at all avoidable. Some argued foreign fleets that are causing the problem in Scottish waters. Unfortunately, no data or studies were found that could clarify this key point with empirical evidence.
Entanglement is impacting marine mammals across the globe and there are sightings of whales towing gear, or whales that have become tangled in crab pot lines. In Queensland, Australia, the shark control program recorded scores of humpback whales snagged in its nets.
The Scottish Government Marine litter strategy consultation runs until 22 March 2022.