Yellow fish have been painted beside drains in Stonehaven to try and deter people from dropping litter into them.
The stencilled symbol has appeared on a handful of drains around the seaside community to highlight that anything dropped into them – such as cigarette butts, disposable face masks and plastic – can end up in the sea and harm marine life.
Pollution and litter plague the north-east coastline, and earlier this year, the Turning the Plastic Tide project revealed they collected more than 25 tonnes of rubbish from north-east beaches over a two year period.
Stonehaven and Lower Deeside councillor Sarah Dickinson, who lives in the town, hopes that it could be expanded if successful.
If council officers determine the symbols don’t wash away easily and are effective at helping the public think twice about littering, Ms Dickinson said it’s possible the little fish could make their way to other coastal communities.
‘This is not a bin’
Ms Dickinson said: “This began with a local Surfers Against Sewage representative meeting with me, and conversations about plastic in the environment.
“She shared with me a photograph of a drain somewhere in England that had a stencil of a seahorse and the message ‘don’t litter’ next to it, and we started to talk about if that’s something we can do here.
“I got stencils based on the seahorse initially, but a fish symbol is definitely more recognisable as something associated with the sea.
“So we’re trialling it to see if they last well, and see what kind of feedback we get about understanding of what it means.
“If it makes somebody think, ‘hang on, why’s there a fish here, what’s this trying to tell me,’ that’s a good thought process to go through.
“These drains feed into the sea. In my litter-picking at the beach, I’m finding sweetie wrappers, masks, cigarette butts, tissues.
“All of that, when it goes into drains, goes out towards the sea.
“The stencils are intended to make people stop and think twice – this is not a bin.”
Potential for further roll-out
She added: “Generally, the reaction so far has been positive.
“If this were to work well here, then certainly I could imagine other communities that have drains that feed out to the sea possibly wishing to take it up, but I haven’t looked that far down the line yet as right now it’s Stonehaven-focused.
“We need to keep all plastic and litter out of our seas.”