A RESEARCH vessel has uncovered a 250-metre long plastic pipe floating in the open ocean to the north east of Unst.
The Sanco Scorpio made the find last week while carrying out seismic survey work 129 nautical miles from Unst.
Rather than leaving the pipe to slowly break up into harmful microplastics, the crew took it on board.
It had to be cut up into 50 pieces of approximately five metres so that it could be stowed on board and taken ashore to Lerwick.
This was described as “no small task” with the pipe consisting of 10mm thick heavy-duty plastic, weighing some 680 kilograms. No identifying marks were found on the pipe.
Marine environmental organisation KIMO worked with Lerwick Port Authority (LPA) and Shetland Islands Council (SIC) to dispose of the dismembered pipe.
Usually a vessel would be billed for disposing of such bulky waste, but the LPA wanted to “avoid penalising the Sanco Scorpio for their good deed”, and decided to get in touch with KIMO, which under its Fishing for Litter scheme can step in to pay for disposal of waste dredged up by fishing vessels.
As a result the LPA donated staff time and vehicle hire costs, the SIC’s waste management team offered a discounted rate for processing the waste and KIMO paid for the remainder of the disposal costs.
Julia Cant of KIMO said: “This is a pretty amazing result. By working together in a spirit of goodwill we’ve removed a very large and cumbersome piece of marine litter from the ocean for good and at minimal cost. A huge thank you to everyone involved!’
Lerwick Port Authority HSEQ manager Stuart Wadley said: “Waste materials in the ocean are a serious threat to sealife, the environment and, potentially, shipping. In the ongoing battle to clean up, every little helps – although in this case, not so little.
“Sanco Scorpio’s crew deserve praise for their efforts and the example set for other vessels. We were pleased to play our part.”
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