BIRDS, fish and wildlife along Scotland’s beaches and coastline are being threatened by the amount of dumped plastic which ends up in the sea.

Plastic was found in the nests and beaks of seabirds in internationally-significant colonies on the Bass Rock, Isle of May and the Shiant Isles during a major scientific voyage.

Researchers also found plastic strewn on more than 30 beaches in remote areas, microplastics in the foraging grounds of basking sharks and seabirds, and animals entangled in rubbish.

The two-month Greenpeace expedition around Scottish coastlines found widespread environmental damage caused by plastic bottles, bags, packaging and fragments.

Campaigners want urgent action to address the problem and today a petition will be submitted to Scotland’s Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham calling for the introduction of a deposit return scheme for drinks containers in Scotland.

HeraldScotland:

Tisha Brown, oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “It cannot be right that our beaches, seas and the stunning wildlife they are home to should become the final dumping ground for throwaway plastic bottles and other plastic trash.

“With a truckload of plastic entering the ocean every minute, we need urgent action from governments and from major soft drinks companies which produce billions of single-use plastic bottles every year, like Coca-Cola, to stop the flow of plastic into the sea.”

The petition handover coincides with the arrival of Greenpeace ship the Beluga II in Edinburgh to present the initial findings from its mission, carried out in May and June.

The expedition conducted more than 40 scientific trawls in remote and biodiverse areas.

The samples will be sent to the Greenpeace research laboratories at Exeter University for full analysis with complete results to be published later this year.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said it was working to tackle the problem.

She said: “Marine litter is a serious issue which adversely affects the health of Scotland’s seas and the world’s oceans.

“It impacts on our wildlife and damages our marine environment, on which many livelihoods depend.

“The potential benefits of a deposit return scheme are currently being assessed.

“We are also developing legislation to ban the sale and manufacture of personal care products containing plastic microbeads.”