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Last Updated: Friday, 20 May, 2005, 09:41 GMT 10:41 UK
Sea litter clean-up set to expand
Ian Gatt, Ross Finnie
Solstice skipper Ian Gatt with Ross Finnie at the project launch
Trawlermen from 10 major ports across Scotland are joining forces to fish hundreds of tonnes of marine litter from the North Sea.

The 200,000 scheme hopes to encourage boats to collect up to 500 tonnes of litter over the next three years.

It is aimed at improving the environment around Scotland's coast and reducing damage to fishing gear, which can cost up boats up to 30,000 a year.

The Save the North Sea project already runs in Shetland and Peterhead.

Fisheries Minister Ross Finnie said: "Marine litter is a significant problem for the fishing industry and for the wildlife supported by the marine environment.

"I welcome the fact that Scottish harbours and our fishermen are taking tangible steps to tackle this programme."

Every year time is lost by those dealing with marine litter
John Mouat

The Fishing for Litter initiative builds on the EU-backed Save the North Sea and is funded by Scottish Natural Heritage, The Crown Estate, the Scottish Executive and various local authorities.

Co-ordinating group KIMO has been running Fishing for Litter out of Shetland and Peterhead for the past two years.

Project manager John Mouat said he was in discussions with eight other ports.

Animals' health

He said: "Every year time is lost by those dealing with marine litter, which can be costly not only to fishermen but also to the health of marine animals such as birds and seals.

"I am delighted that we have secured funding to expand Fishing for Litter activities to other ports in Scotland and we will be announcing the identities of these soon."

In the two years Fishing for Litter has operated, fishermen on 54 boats from eight harbours across Europe have collected 460 tonnes of marine litter.

Objects recovered include oil filters, washing machines, bicycles, pots and paint tins.

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