Page last updated at 00:23 GMT, Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Boats in Argyll and Bute to help clear litter from sea

Fish boxes
Fishermen will help to bring in the rubbish which gets into their nets

Fishermen are signing up to a scheme which uses fishing boats to help to clear rubbish from the seas.

The 'Fishing for Litter' initiative encourages crews to take ashore rubbish they catch while fishing.

The scheme is administered by the European local authorities environmental organisation, KIMO.

Boats are provided with bags so that any waste they collect can be easily stored and left for collection on the quayside.

Argyll and Bute Council now has special bins in the fishing ports of Campbeltown and Rothesay where the fishermen can deposit the rubbish they gather.

The first boats to sign up to the scheme are the Leven Mor, which operates from Rothesay, and the Campbeltown-based vessel Kelly Emm.

Boats from the two ports fish in waters around the west of Scotland and further afield.

Councillor Len Scoullar, who is Argyll and Bute's representative on KIMO, said he hoped the Leven Mor and the Kelly Emm would be the first of many boats to take part in the scheme.

Predominantly plastic

He said: "This is a very innovative project which has been extremely successful so far in other parts of Europe.

"Despite many programmes and legislation to reduce marine litter, it remains one of the most significant environmental problems and affects the marine environment on a worldwide scale."

Recent studies have found that about 20,000 tonnes of litter - predominantly plastic - is dumped into the North Sea alone every year.

Of that, 70% sinks to the sea bed, 15% floats on the surface and 15% washes up on beaches.

Mr Scoullar added:"There is an abundance of scientific evidence which proves that sea life has been significantly affected by the increase in marine waste.

"Thousands of species of bird, fish and mammals are suffering every year in Europe's waters as a result of this problem.

"In addition, the litter can cost the fishing industry tens of thousands of pounds per boat every year through contamination of catches, broken gear and fouled propellers."

It is hoped that the scheme will reduce the amount of litter being washed up on beaches and shorelines and that should benefit coastal communities throughout Argyll and Bute.

There may also be positive impacts on various other industries such as aquaculture, as marine litter can clog and damage cages and nets.

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For Council pioneers fishing for litter with boats at Campbeltown and Rothesay - 17 hrs ago
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