Marine litter poses a vast and growing threat to our oceans and our coastlines. It originates from many sources and causes environmental, economic, safety, health and cultural impacts.
Plastic, the predominant type of marine litter, degrades slowly and this, together with the constantly growing quantity of items disposed, is causing an increase in the amount of marine litter found in our seas and coastal areas and the resulting environmental and economic problems are consequently worsening.
Marine litter can cause entanglement or be ingested by marine mammals and birds and kills at least 100,000 and 1,000,000 respectively worldwide each year. Animals can become entangled in discarded ropes and nets or trapped in plastic containers. Plastic strapping bands can be particularly hazardous for inquisitive animals such as seals. They swim through the bands catching them around their necks. The bands cut into their skin as they grow causing injury and slow, painful death. Our seabirds are also at significant risk of harm — 98% of fulmars in the North Sea have plastic in their stomachs which leads to a loss of physical condition resulting in breeding failure. In severe cases it causes starvation and death.
The greatest risks posed to human health are the tiny particles of plastic (microplastics) which are consumed by fish and become part of our own food chain.
KIMO works to find enduring solutions to mitigate the problems caused by marine litter through practical projects; education & outreach; supporting scientific research.
One of our most successful projects to date, has been the ‘Fishing for Litter‘ campaign.