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Last Updated: Monday, 9 June, 2003, 14:22 GMT 15:22 UK
Fishermen urged to net litter
Fishing - generic
Litter can cost boats up to 30,000
Scottish fishermen are being asked to help clean up the North Sea by catching rubbish.

A campaign has been launched as part of a Europe-wide initiative to cut the amount of marine litter.

Fisherman have been urged to bring ashore debris that gets caught up in their nets while they are out at sea.

The scheme aims to help the environment, reduce the risk of damage to fishing gear and avoid contamination of catches.

It is part of the Save The North Sea campaign co-ordinated by KIMO International - an association of local authorities founded in Denmark.

It will benefit all those using the North Sea and UK beaches
John Mouat
Project co-ordinator

John Mouat, Save the North Sea project co-ordinator for KIMO, said: "Fishing for Litter is a simple and effective way to work with the fishing industry.

"It will benefit all those using the North Sea and UK beaches as well as having a positive financial impact on the UK fishing industry due to a reduction in the amount of marine litter."

The aim is to have 10 vessels taking part in the scheme, collecting 50 tonnes of marine litter in the first year.

A KIMO report, published in 2000, studied Shetland fishermen and calculated their annual financial loss caused by marine litter could be as much as 30,000 for each boat.

Economic impact

The cash loss is estimated through net repairs, contamination of catches, fouled propellers and fishing time lost because the fishermen are spending time clearing their nets of debris.

Josie Simpson, chairman of the Shetland Fishermen's Association, said: "I'm very pleased that we are helping to make a positive impact and practically demonstrate that we are willing participants in addressing the marine litter problem in the North Sea."

Fishermen in other key areas of the UK are also being asked to take part in the initiative.

More than 20,000 tonnes of marine litter are dumped into the North Sea annually, KIMO estimates.

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