Marine litter

child lifting up the sea to reveal rubbish

Marine litter is a global concern, affecting all the oceans of the world. Every year, millions of tonnes of litter end up in the ocean worldwide. It has the potential to cause environmental, economic, health and aesthetic problems.

In Wales, the problem is becoming more visible in the marine environment. This could be having a detrimental effect on marine biodiversity and coastal tourism, which our economy relies on.

It is assumed that 80% of marine litter:

  • originates from land-based sources
  • predominantly consists of plastic

It is crucial we come together to tackle this global challenge.

Wales Clean Seas Partnership is taking a leading role in tackling marine litter.

Understanding commercial fishing gear use and disposal needs in Wales

Welsh Government has been working with our fishing industry and key stakeholders. We are developing policy solutions for end of life fishing gear and ghost gear in Wales. This report focuses on fishing gear usage in Wales and underpins a key action within the Marine Litter Action Plan. The report highlights:

  • the different levels of infrastructure

  • approaches for gear disposal at some of our ports

  • the amount of end of life gear disposed of each year

Understanding commercial fishing gear use and disposal needs in Wales


End of life fishing gear scheme

We undertook a pilot scheme to recycle certain types of end-of-life fishing gear from fishing vessels. Six harbours were chosen as part of the pilot, based on:

  • their geographic spread across Wales, and
  • vessel ‘home ports’ associated with applicable gear types

We have published a report summarising the pilot scheme and first waste collection. The scheme is continuing in Wales and we are exploring options to expand further.

End-of-life fishing gear recycling pilot study for Wales



Related links

Marine Litter Action Plan for Wales

Marine litter: what you can do

Wales Clean Seas Partnership: progress

Wales Clean Seas newsletter