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Marine Litter Costs On The Rise


GENERAL - A new report Economic Impacts of Marine Litter by KIMO international has shown that the cost of litter on costal communities and marine industries has risen significantly in the last 10 years.

The two-year research project shows that in some instances costs have risen as much as 83 per cent, taking into account inflation, placing a totally unnecessary burden on those who live by or make their living from the sea.

Marine litter has a significant effect on the marine environment however few studies to date have explored its economic impact. The objective of KIMO’s research was therefore to investigate the economic impact of marine litter on coastal communities throughout the North East Atlantic region. This research focused on how marine litter affects key industries that rely on the marine environment such as aquaculture, fisheries, harbours, marinas, municipalities, rescue services and voluntary organisations.

From the research findings, it is clear that the economic impact of marine litter on coastal communities in the North East Atlantic region is considerable with many industries significantly affected by marine litter. Key findings of the research include:

  • Local authorities in the UK spend approximately €18 million on average removing beach litter each year, which represents a 37.4 per cent increase over the past 10 years.

  • Dutch Municipalities spend € 10.4 million on removing beach litter from tourist beaches.

  • Marine litter costs the Scottish fishing fleet between €11.7 million and €13 million on average each year, which is the equivalent of five per cent of the total revenue of affected fisheries.

    Spanish harbours spend on average €61,013 per harbour per year removing marine litter.

  • Over 70 per cent of harbours and marinas reported that their users had experienced incidents involving marine litter.

    In 2008, the RNLI carried out 286 rescues to vessels with propellers fouled by litter in UK waters at a cost of between €830,000 and €2,189,000.

This research also highlights that while the economic impact of marine litter occurs at a local level, action to reduce it must be at the international scale. It aims to feed in to the socioeconomic analysis required under the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive, which includes actions on marine litter. However what is clear from the results is that without strong action to tackle the sources of marine litter, the costs associated with it will continue to rise.

KIMO International Secretariat John Mouat stated: “At a time when municipalities are facing financial cuts the cost of dealing with marine litter is an unwanted extra burden. I hope that this study will encourage policy makers to take strong action to reduce marine litter and the significant and rising costs associated with it.”