The Scale of the Problem
Litter on our shores and in our seas isn’t just unattractive, it is extremely harmful.
Global estimates suggest that a million seabirds and more than 100,000 marine mammals are killed each year from eating plastic. As more research is carried out into the effects of marine plastic we find that up to 100% of marine animals living in the deepest ocean trenches contain microplastics.
Around 58% of the fulmars that soar over our northern seas have plastics in their stomachs; which can lead to reduced feeding and starvation. Evidence published in 2017 from group of scientists, that included researchers from the Environmental Research Institute in Thurso, found that 74% of the 34 seabird species they studied had ingested plastic. It is estimated that all seabirds could be affected by 2050.
Marine litter can also have a strong economic impact. Fouling of fishing boat gear causes significant costs, estimated at up to £12,000 a year per vessel in repairs and time lost at sea. Marine Scotland calculates that marine litter could cost the country at least £17 million per year.