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Marine litter costs Scotland £17m a year

Public and industry waste flushed and dumped in the sea are threatening Scotland’s green targets and costing their tourism and fishing industries £17m a year, a government report reveals.

Plastics are the worst threat to the seaside economy and environment, according to the study by Marine Scotland. Plastic makes up 62% of the waste, up from 52%in 1996.

The coastal and maritime economy in Scotland is worth £2.2bn an year, and employs 50,000 jobs, not including the oil industry.

Common litter items include plastic bags, food packaging, and fishing gear, which affect leisure activities. The report shows that 85% of tourists and residents would not visit a beach with more than two items of litter per metre. Rubbish has also affected diving, worth £15m a year; coastal wildlife tourism, worth £24m a year; and sea angling, worth £70m a year.

Seaside waste also harms the environment, hitting Scottish fisheries worth £10m a year.

The report said a lack of improvement in levels of waste dumped in the sea, threatened Scotland Strategic Objectives “to become a Greener, Wealthier and Fairer, Safer and Stronger and Healthier Scotland”, and its Zero Waste Plan.

Anne Saunders, Scottish projects officer for the Marine Conservation Society, was reported by The Herald as saying: “Accidental spills of materials can occur if industry practices and procedures are not robust or are not implemented properly.

“The public can easily do its bit by not flushing sanitary items down the toilet and not dropping litter.”

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