Funded by the ScottishPower Foundation, the ‘Ocean Recovery Project’ will be rolled out to harbours across Scotland and the North-East of England to protect marine biodiversity and habitats, which are key in tackling the climate crisis.
It will address the issue of lost – or ‘ghost’ – fishing nets, which make up around 10% of the plastic waste in our oceans according to research released by Greenpeace. These lost nets can become stuck on coral reefs and the ocean floor, leading to seabed damage and, in some instances, the death of marine species.
Once lost, the nets continue to catch marine life, with species such as crabs, rays, fish, mammals and even birds getting caught. These then act as bait for larger species like seals, dolphins and whales, which have also been found tangled in the nets.
The Ocean Recovery Project will create a UK-based recycling system that involves the removal of discarded nets and recycles them into plastic pellets.
Allison Ogden-Newton OBE, Chief Executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said: “We are delighted that the ScottishPower Foundation is supporting our ground-breaking Ocean Recovery Project. We have all seen the damage plastic does once it gets in our seas. The ScottishPower Foundation grant will allow us to work with fishing harbours across the UK to recycle used fishing nets as well as supporting beach clean groups in the recycling of nets.
“The recovered plastic will then be turned into something useful such as street furniture, instead of ending up in landfill or becoming part of the toxic plastic soup that does so much damage to our marine environment and ourselves. This will be transformational for the health and resilience of our marine ecosystems, habitats and native species for years to come.”
Melanie Hill, Executive Officer and Trustee at the ScottishPower Foundation, said: “It’s critical that we help protect our planet now and that’s exactly why this project appealed to the Foundation. We’re proud to support Keep Britain Tidy and its Ocean Recovery project to help save our seas.”