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A GREENPEACE research expedition off the coast at North Berwick has revealed high levels of plastic pollution on the Bass Rock.

Scientists on the Beluga II carried out sea surface sampling for microplastics around the Bass Rock, finding suspected plastics in the water which will undergo further analysis on board and at Greenpeace’s Research Laboratories at Exeter University.

The crew then accessed the Bass Rock, accompanied by experts from the Scottish Seabird Centre, and investigated nests and surrounding areas for plastic.

Willie Mackenzie, oceans expert at Greenpeace UK, said: “Being surrounded by tens of thousands of gannets on the Bass Rock is a stunning spectacle – but it’s seabirds like these which are acutely threatened by ocean plastic pollution.

“We found plastic bags, packaging, bits of old fishing gear and even crisp packets strewn across the island and surrounding eggs in nests.

“It’s no wonder that studies have shown that 90 per cent of seabirds have eaten plastic.”

“A truckload of plastic enters the ocean every minute and 16 million plastic bottles end up in our environment every day in the UK. We need urgent action from major soft drinks companies – like Coca-Cola, which produces over 100 billion throwaway plastic bottles every year – to reduce their plastic footprint, and we need governments to deliver initiatives like bottle deposit return schemes which can reduce the amount of plastic ending up on our beaches and in the sea.”

Tom Brock, chief executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre, added: “The research that Greenpeace is undertaking around Scotland is very welcome and We have been delighted to work with them Greenpeace on this important work.

“Scotland’s amazing marine wildlife is of international importance.

“However it is now facing a wide range of significant threats, including plastic pollution.

“Research and the raising of public awareness are vital to ensuring that our wonderful wildlife can be appreciated and enjoyed by future generations.”