Pilots to identify Scotland's marine litter hotspots, new project

Jack O'Donovan By: Jack O'Donovan
Date posted: 16 April 2018

The SCRAPbook project will take it to the skies to find Scotland’s coastal and marine litter hotspots. It’s an innovative charity collaboration that will lead to mass clean up operations.

Aeroplane - SCRAPbook

SCRAPbook will enable our amazing volunteers to see where there are beaches that have yet to be cleaned which will lead to a more robust evidence base of what and how much is being washed up on Scotland’s shores

Catherine Gemmell,
Scotland Conservation Officer
Marine Conservation Society

Three very different charities are joining forces to map the extent of marine litter around Scotland’s coastline. The Marine Conservation Society (MCS), Sky Watch Civil Air Patrol and the Moray Firth Partnership (MFP) are today launching SCRAPbook, which will see volunteer pilots and photographers identify pollution hotspots and litter sinks.

SCRAPbook – Scottish Coastal Rubbish Aerial Photography - will see aerial photographs taken and fed into an online scrapbook for volunteers, communities, schools and individuals to direct beach clean up and survey activity.

SCRAPbook was borne out of the Moray Firth and Vicky Junik of the Moray Firth Partnership is delighted to see the project go Scotland wide: “When Peter Mackintosh from Sky Watch gave me a call, thanks to Catherine lining him and I up, it was a match made in heaven….We had a plan to map the coastal rubbish and pollution around our 500miles of coastline and he had a plane! The Sky Watch crew here in the north have been instrumental in developing this idea into one that could work right around Scotland. ‘The Boys’ - all retired - have given many, many hours working through the test sorties, the equipment and the techniques needed to get this amazing project on its feet. MFP is very proud to be part of that and we hope to bring on board all our fellow local coastal partnerships from around Scotland.”

Archie Liggat, Sky Watch Chairman, says: “Our pilots get a unique view of the country’s coastline. We fly sorties for many different reasons and are always dismayed by plastic contamination we see floating in our waters or landing on our beaches. There will be seven Civil Air Patrol teams taking part who are all very excited to be joining forces with MCS and MFP on taking the battle on ocean plastics to Scotland’s skies!”

The availability of these photos to the public and beach cleaning organisers like MCS will be a game changer in directing volunteers to the parts of the coast that perhaps had not been noticed before.

Catherine Gemmell, MCS’ Scotland Conservation Officer coordinates the mobilisation of thousands of volunteers around the Scottish coastline to clean up beaches and record the litter they find. But, says Catherine, there are still many kilometres of coastline that remain uncleaned.

“With nearly 10,000 kilometers making up Scotland’s mainland coast we know there are many stretches of beach that our volunteers have not been able to survey yet. SCRAPbook will enable our amazing volunteers to see where there are beaches that have yet to be cleaned and surveyed which will lead to a more robust evidence base of what and how much is being washed up on Scotland’s shores.

“From the 5p carrier bag charge to the commitment for a Deposit Return System, Scotland has seen how much power data on beach litter can have – this project will provide an entirely new dataset that will be crucial to highlight to Government and Industry what steps we need to take next to stop this plastic tide hitting Scotland’s shores.”

The SCRAPbook project is part funded by the Scottish Government through Marine Scotland and captured the interest of the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham:

“I am delighted we are supporting this innovative project - SCRAPbook will make it easier to address the problem of litter from Scotland and many other countries gathering on our shoreline”.

2020 has been designated as Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Water and the SCRAPbook team hope the project will catalyse the largest strategic beach cleaning operation ever seen in Scotland next year, 2019, allowing the country to showcase a cleaner coastline in 2020.

More information can be found in the project website.

Actions you can take

  1. Download the Great British Beach Clean Report 2019
  2. Find out more about the SCRAPbook Project
  3. Browse Scotland's Marine Atlas
  4. Find out more about Scottish Wildlife
  5. Help us stop the plastic tide

Did you know?…

Globally, plastic litter has reached every part of the world’s oceans

Every day millions of microplastics enter the sea from personal care products such as scrubs and toothpastes