Volunteers from Mowi with a bootful of rubbish picked up from a beach on a cold day.

Salmon farm volunteers collected 23.6 tonnes of beach litter last year

Staff from Mowi, Scottish Sea Farms, Bakkafrost, Cooke, and Loch Duart spent the equivalent of 83 working days on keeping the coastline clean


Volunteers from Scottish salmon farms cleared away more than 23 tonnes of litter from Highlands and islands beaches last year as part of efforts to keep the areas where they live and work clean.

Salmon farmers take part in regular beach cleans to ensure beaches and coastlines are free from litter and aquaculture debris. While some of the beach litter was related to aquaculture, most was not, and had either been washed up on the shore or left behind by tourists and other visitors.

Items collected included a barbecue, discarded shoes and a variety of children’s toys, as well as a car number plate, engine belt, windscreen and steering wheel.

The volunteers also cleared away large quantities of wet wipes, which are not biodegradable but often wrongly flushed down the toilet by homeowners.


Trade body Salmon Scotland said volunteers from salmon producers often work in partnership with local groups to clear litter, and that the data compiled for 2023 didn’t cover all farms and was therefore likely to be an underestimate of the total amount of rubbish removed.

Figures from five firms – Mowi Scotland, Scottish Sea Farms, Bakkafrost Scotland, Cooke Aquaculture Scotland and Loch Duart – showed that staff cleared away 23.6 tonnes of litter, the equivalent weight of around 18 family hatchbacks.

During 2023 staff from the five companies spent a total of 661 hours clearing litter, volunteering the equivalent of 83 working days.

The beaches they covered ranged from Orkney to the Hebridean islands of North and South Uist, Lewis, Barra, Skye, Rum, Muck and Gigha. They also visited beaches and harbours on Scotland’s north-west coast as well as cleaning up parts of Loch Shiel, Loch Garry, Loch Arkaig and Loch Leven.

Dumped tyres

In February this year, Mowi Scotland was praised by Highland Council for helping to clear more than 300 tyres illegally dumped down a steep bank from the A82 on to the shores of Loch Ness.

Mowi provided both the people and the specialist vessels and vehicles to access the shoreline and deal with the fly-tipping, which took place at a lay-by near Drumnadrochit at the end of January.

As well as voluntarily taking part in beach cleans, in 2020 salmon farmers made a sustainability charter commitment to avoid marine debris coming from their own farms and to recover any reported items. Members of the public can report aquaculture debris via a marine debris hotline.

Shocking littering

Salmon Scotland chief executive Tavish Scott said: “While the efforts of the volunteers who took part in these clean-ups are to be applauded, the sheer amount of discarded litter and washed-up waste they found on local beaches is truly shocking.

“The vast majority of this could have been disposed of in a responsible way, but if it isn’t then it can spend decades lying on our beaches or circulating in the world’s oceans instead.

“Our salmon farmers are lucky to live and work in some of Scotland’s most stunning coastal areas and are happy to play their part in regular beach cleans to help keep the shores clean for everyone to enjoy.

“The Scottish salmon sector is dedicated to protecting our shared marine environment, and our members will continue with their proactive beach cleans in 2024 and beyond.”

The location and volume of collected waste

Location Council area Waste removed (KG)
LochmaddyNa h-Eileanan an Iar200
GalsonNa h-Eileanan an Iar49.5
GighaArgyll and Bute5000
PortavadieArgyll and Bute120
SeisiadarNa h-Eileanan an Iar10.5
GravirNa h-Eileanan an Iar3000
MiavaigNa h-Eileanan an Iar9000
Traigh GhioradailNa h-Eileanan an Iar8.25
Papa WestrayOrkney Islands40
Caves Bay, RumHighland50
Am Broilein, KingairlochHighland40
Laudale, Loch SunartHighland100
Lair Bhaim, Craobh HavenArgyll and Bute40
Asknish Bay, Poll na GillieArgyll and Bute8
Ceana Mor, KingairlochHighland10
Loch a Choire, KingairlochHighland1
Horse Island, MuckHighland75
PortrighArgyll and Bute6
Shuna, Craobh HavenArgyll and Bute255
Kyle HarbourHighland30
Polnish, LochailortHighland14
South West ShunaArgyll and Bute40
Polnish, LochailortHighland15
North Corran, LinnheHighland100
Loch ArkaigHighland8
Loch GarryHighland4
Dores beach, Loch NessHighland90
Gairlochy, Loch LochyHighland28
Mingery Bay, KilchoanHighland15
Port Mor, MuckHighland40
Loch HournHighland17
Broadford BeachHighland1
Loch LevenPerth & Kinross10.5
Daliburgh, UistNa h-Eileanan an Iar60
Loch Bracadale, SkyeHighland900
Struan Beach, SkyeHighland45
Loch Seaforth ShoreNa h-Eileanan an Iar600
Gleann Ceann EastailNa h-Eileanan an Iar125
Usinish Bay, SkipportNa h-Eileanan an Iar40
Eoligary Beach, BarraNa h-Eileanan an Iar42
Ardhasaig, WLTNa h-Eileanan an Iar32
Invasion BayHighland1.5
Braes Beach, SkyeHighland8
N/A (Not recorded)Argyll and Bute18
N/A (Not recorded)Orkney Islands75
TOTAL: 23,645.85