The Upstream Battle campaign to clean up our oceans and tackle the threat of marine litter has arrived on the banks of the Tay.
It is an 18-month programme to raise awareness, change behaviours and protect the marine environment.
Volunteers from Perthshire have already been working to protect the pristine waters at Aberfeldy.
Ahead of the campaign’s official launch in Dundee, they spoke about why they are supporting the Upstream Battle on the Tay campaign.
Protecting the Tay’s ‘pristine’ waters
Among the volunteers was Ross Dempster who runs Beyond Adventure at Aberfeldy.
“The water here is pristine and anything that gets left is noticeable,” he said.
“We organise litter picks quite a lot. We’ve found all sorts – beer cans, crisp packets, plastic bags and traffic cones.”
Keep Scotland Beautiful is running the campaign.
According to the organisation, 80% of marine litter starts off on land.
It gets washed into gutters and blown into streams and rivers.
An estimated 12.7 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the sea each year.
That’s the equivalent of a truck full of litter a minute.
Upstream Battle Tay campaign to tackle dirty camping
A major issue facing the Tay in Perthshire is the scourge of dirty camping.
Ross warned that irresponsible campers who walk away leaving rubbish and discarded equipment at beauty spots are causing an environmental hazard.
Dumped waste at the river bank can end up in the river. This is more likely to happen if water levels rise after heavy rainfall.
“When the rivers flood up, anything left at the side of the river gets washed away.”
Where does your rubbish end up?
Also turning up to help was holidaymaker Hugh Davidson, 49.
A regular visitor to Perthshire, Hugh had travelled all the way from Bermuda.
Hugh has a special interest in protecting the oceans from plastic pollution. He works in environmental protection in Bermuda and takes parts in beach clean-ups.
“All the cigarette butts, plastic bottles – everything – that ends up in the river will end up in the ocean.”
Keep Scotland Beautiful is recruiting 10 volunteer ‘anchor groups’ along the length of the Tay to monitor their local waters.
Groups will pick and survey litter found along their shorelines.
The data gathered will provide an insight into the types of litter found in the water – all of which has the potential to reach the wider marine environment.
The campaign’s main aim is to highlight how litter gets from rivers to the marine environment, and explore how people can help prevent it from getting there.
Hugh said the more people involved in protecting rivers and seas the better.
“You need a lot of people doing a little,” he added.
From the Clyde to the Tay
Upstream Battle along the Tay is being officially launched at the V&A Dundee.
The campaign has already taken place along the Clyde.
On the west coast it has proved a success since the 2018 launch.
It has the backing of celebrity ambassadors including wildlife cameraman Doug Allan and Scottish actor Martin Compston.
Local authorities and Crown Estate Scotland are also supporting the efforts.
On the west coast, plastic wrappers were the items most commonly found in surveys.
Plastic fragments and cotton buds were in second and third place respectively.
‘90%’ demand action on marine litter
Keep Scotland Beautiful commissioned a study, which found that 90% of Tayside residents want action to prevent litter entering the sea.
And more than 80% would like to know what they can do to help.
Keep Scotland Beautiful chief executive Barry Fisher took to a canoe to survey the Tay at Aberfeldy.
“This campaign is about changing behaviour,” he said.
“We need to think differently about what we consume and how we dispose of it.
“The evidence is clear. The drinks bottle or crisp packet discarded in our streets has a fair chance of ending up in our river and polluting the ocean.
“That has to stop. It’s time to look after our rivers, protect our seas and look after our environment.”