Marine Litter

Marine Litter

We are increasingly aware of the damage caused by litter and pollution on our coasts and in our seas. It looks unsightly, but worse, it can be extremely harmful to marine wildlife. Plastic waste is picked up by the ocean’s filter feeders, mistakenly eaten by seabirds and fish, and can cause death through entanglement for many marine creatures. With an estimated 300 million tons of it now littering our seas, it is estimated that by 2050, there will be more litter than fish. More than eight million tonnes of plastic goes into the oceans every year.  Numerous species of fish eaten by humans have been found to contain plastic, and the effect of eating these on human health is still unknown.

The Moray Firth Coastal Partnership has been working on this issue for a number of years. In 2006 we released a report on beach litter as part of our Beach Guardians project.  (Link to report to follow) and more recently we have managed the SCRAPbook project (see below) in collaboration with UK Civil Air Patrol (Sky Watch) and Marine Conservation Society.

We are currently working on our Vision Statement to inform our future work in the Moray Firth. We will continue our work on marine litter, focussing on the Moray Firth and targeting some of the most affected areas, in collaboration with local businesses and community sectors.

We want the coastline of Moray Firth to be clear of historic litter, and for systems to be in place to ensure that recurring litter is routinely tackled to reduce its impact on the marine and coastal environment. We want work in collaboration with communities to take ownership of the issue on their beaches, and we will support them with education and resources.

To do this we need to have great communication with organisations, individuals and communities, to help us get a clear picture of activity in our region. If you have an interest in marine litter, please do get in touch with us at

If you undertake beach cleaning activity in the Moray Firth area – we want to hear from you! We have a questionnaire out just now – please take 5 minutes to complete it to give us a picture of what has been happening.

For ways of getting involved see here.

SCRAPbook (Scottish Coastal Rubbish Aerial Photography)

Throughout 2018/9, volunteer pilots and observers from UK Civil Air Patrol (Sky Watch) invested over a hundred and fifty hours flying the Scottish mainland, capturing images of the rubbish around our coastline.  The photographs taken were then classified according to the amount of litter visible, by a team who volunteered over a thousand hours of their time.  All of these have been used to create the SCRAPbook interactive map, showing the true scale of the litter problem around the coast of Scotland for the first time. The Moray Firth area is being surveyed again in 2019/20, to provide an update of the state of the coastline. As part of the projects, 2 Marine Litter Officers were employed to tackle an area of the Argyll coast.  See the SCRAPbook Marine Litter Officer Case Study for more information.

For more information on the SCRAPbook project click here.



Image credit: KIMO