Catch of the day is rubbish.

Scottish fishermen will be trawling for a new catch following the re-introduction of an initiative to combat waste in British waters.

The Fishing for Waste initiative has been relaunched in Scotland.

The Fishing for Waste initiative has been relaunched in Scotland.

In 2003 an EU-backed scheme was launched encouraging North Sea fishing fleets to bring litter caught in their nets back to port.

But despite the success of the project funding for the Save the North Sea project ran out at the end of 2004.

On Friday, May 20 the Scottish Executive's Environment and Rural Development Minister Ross Finnie launched a replacement scheme in Glasgow.

This time funded by a consortium of government, business and NGOs and coordinated by environmental organisation KIMO the £200,000 project will ensure the continued collection of rubbish while research and monitoring will be added to the mix.

It will also see trawler crews from eight additional Scottish ports taking part. Nina Deakin, a spokesperson for KIMO told "The pilot project finished at the end of 2004.

"But now the initial scheme was so successful it has been relaunched and extended across the whole of Scotland with this new money.

In the original scheme 54 boats from Scotland and other Northern European nations collected 460 tonnes of litter over three years.

The new scheme hopes to see 100 boats from ten Scottish harbours clean 500 tonnes of waste from the sea.

"They are going out to catch fish but now they are going out with massive tarpaulin bags to pick up this litter again which will now be brought back to the harbours," said Ms Deakin.

She added that there would also be research and monitoring of the litter, whereas the initial scheme was purely collection and disposal.

"Over the course of the project we will be able to find out not only the quantity but the type, variety and source of the litter," she said.

"We will be able to find out what sort of industries are dumping litter and where they are based.

With the target recovery of 500 tonnes of litter over the next three years the scheme may be seen as just a drop in the ocean, however.

When the original project began in 2003 around 200,000 tonnes of marine litter was being dumped in the North Sea each year.

"It's just a start, but it is still very good news," said Ms Deakin. "At the completion of the Save the North Sea project it was all going to come to an end but we've actually managed to start it again and even expand it."

Fishermen are taking part voluntarily and have enthusiastically embraced the scheme as cleaner seas mean better fishing.

"It's much better for them because the litter that's in the water is very costly to them," said Ms Deakin. "It damages their nets and their boats. "In terms of the contamination of their catch and damage caused litter costs each boat an estimated £30,000." by Sam Bond




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