Walking on certain beaches on the west coast you sometimes get the feeling that most of the litter is from the fishing boats as recorded on many of my strand line walks, but as the surveys with the schools and volunteers showed its only one element of a complex story and even in ‘clean’ Loch Broom and Loch Inver users of the beaches and the adjacent land are often the biggest causes of litter.
High on all our lists: plastic bottles, food containers and wrappers, glass bottles, plastic shopping bags, drinks cans, clothes, metal barbeques, gun cartridges…….
The amount of marine litter not only varies hugely between beaches, coasts, islands , continents, oceans and by climatic changes. It has been estimated that 80%of marine litter could be from land with possibly only 20% coming from vessels. This projection is thought to have originated from the International Coastal Cleanup which Scotland and the UK as a whole takes part in organised through MCS http://www.mcsuk.org/scotland . Our local survey on Ullapool East Shore will also to add to Scottish statistics on what’s happening in the marine environment and if continued on yearly help to add to international statistics.
But we know relatively little about what is lying on the sea floor or suspended in the water. That is why the reports from sailors like Ivan MacFadyen, divers and the information gathered by specific research teams such as the one based at University Marine Biological Station Millport,*is so crucial to our understanding. The beaches are our thermometers to the health of the seas, the simple lists collected go on………electrical cable, metal window encasement, ducting, concrete blocks, pier fenders……..
*Since starting this project in September the Millport research team has been cut