Highlands & Islands

Tonnes of rubbish cleared from Summer Isles in Highlands

Summer Isles rubbish Image copyright SWT
Image caption Tyres, rope and other rubbish on a shoreline of the Summer Isles

Tonnes of rubbish have been removed from the Summer Isles in the north west Highlands.

Ropes, nets, tyres, metal and plastic were gathered in a clean-up led by the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT).

A boat, formerly used as a ferry on a crossing of the Cromarty Firth, has been used to transport up to eight tonnes of waste to the mainland.

The Summer Isles are a group of small islands north west of Ullapool in Wester Ross.

Image copyright Evoke
Image caption Up to eight tonnes of rubbish has been removed from beaches in the Summer Isles

Noel Hawkins, SWT's Living Seas project community development manager, said Scotland had an international reputation for having a pristine, untouched environment.

But he said there were areas spoiled by marine pollution, including the Summer Isles.

Image copyright SWT
Image caption Collected rubbish being loaded on to the boat Cromarty Queen, a former ferry
Image copyright SWT
Image copyright SWT
Image caption The items removed include maritime industry gear such as buoys and fishing nets

He told BBC Scotland: "The Summer Isles are beautiful, and people who sail past them often tell me that.

"But then if you come ashore the beach crunches under your feet. If you dig down you find nets, ropes and material that has broken down into microplastics."

Marine pollution poses threats to both marine wildlife and animals that forage along shorelines.

Mr Hawkins said whales and seals were among wildlife killed after becoming tangled in waste.

Image copyright BDMLR
Image caption A seal found entangled in a lost fishing net in Lewis was rescued by volunteers

In 2017, a seal pup was saved after getting tangled up in a length of plastic net in the Western Isles.

The five-week-old grey seal pup was found on a beach near North Tolsta on Lewis.

David Yardley, local area coordinator of British Divers Marine Life Rescue, and helper Lyndsey Dubberley managed to free the animal.

In the same year, deer on the Isle of Rum were found entangled in lost or abandoned fishing gear.

Image copyright SNH
Image caption A stag on Rum with rope and buoy tangled in its antlers

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