Fishermen from around Scotland’s coast have recently landed the 1,000th tonne of marine litter caught in their nets during normal fishing trips. The bumper haul – estimated to be enough to almost fill three Olympic-sized swimming pools – has been collected as part of the Fishing for Litter campaign, with the latest ‘catch’ being landed at Peterhead port last week.

Fishing for Litter was introduced into Scottish waters by KIMO UK in 2005. The project was developed by KIMO, an association of coastal local authorities whose goal is to eliminate pollution from the northern seas.

The campaign encourages skippers of fishing vessels to land the litter they catch in their nets during their normal fishing activities. Currently, 17 harbours are participating in the project, allowing litter to be landed at their harbour by more than 210 fishing vessels.

KIMO UK’s chairman, Councillor Raymond Christie, said: “Reaching this milestone is a great achievement, and I would like to thank all of the crews who took part for their fantastic efforts to help protect our precious marine environment and shoreline.”

The campaign is supported by a number of partners, including The Crown Estate, which has invested £170,000 over the lifetime of the project, and the Scottish Fisherman’s Trust.

Paul Bancks, The Crown Estate’s marine coastal asset manager, said: “Marine and coastal litter is a problem that affects communities, visitors and biodiversity across the world. Here in Scotland, the volume of litter caught and responsibly disposed of by fishing boat crews is testimony to their dedication and willingness to play their part in eradicating litter from our coasts and seas.

“The Crown Estate has supported the Fishing for Litter project for a number of years and reaching this milestone is an impressive achievement by all concerned.”

Marine litter, much of which is plastic, originates from many sources including a significant amount from the general public. If left in the sea, it would gradually break down into smaller pieces, which have the potential to impact the marine food chain.

Stewart Stevenson, MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, added: “Our northeast coastline provides a livelihood for thousands of people, as well as providing a habitat for countless species of marine life.

“Therefore, it’s our duty to protect it and I applaud our local fisherman for going above and beyond to remove this huge amount of litter from our waters.”

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