Do we eat plastic fishes?

Scientist investigated the presence of plastic debris in fish stomachs 

Marine litter has become a major threat not only to the marine environment but as well to human health. Specifically plastic degrades to smaller pieces that are ingested by fish and can release dangerous chemicals. And these fishes can end up to be served on our plates. Therefore and for the first time scientist investigated the presence of plastic debris in the stomach contents of large pelagic fish caught in the Mediterranean Sea. Their study presents the first evidence of plastic debris in stomach of large pelagic fish in the Mediterranean Sea

KEYWORDS: marine litter, fishes, human health, plastic, pollution

AREA OF STUDY: Mediterranean Sea

Plastic is a major contaminant in the marine environment that never fully biodegrades. Therefore, the impact of plastic debris on large pelagic fish and the potential effects related to the transfer of contaminants on human health has become more important. On European Level, the level of plastics in fish stomachs has been defined as an indicator for the Good Environmental Status (GES) of the marine environment under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).

As very little information regarding plastic ingestion by fish was available, scientists investigated the presence of plastic debris in the stomach contents of three fish types — swordfish (Xiphias gladius), bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus), and albacore (Thunnus alalunga) present and fished in the Mediterranean Sea. These large pelagic fishes were caught in the Mediterranean Sea between 2012 and 2013. In total 56 swordfish, 36 bluefin tuna and 31 albacore were collected.

The results showed that plastic fragments were present in the fish stomachs. The plastic fragments had different shapes and color. Interestingly, transparent and white plastic fragments occurred in all three fish types, while blue ones only in bluefin tuna and albacore and yellowish ones only in swordfish and bluefin tuna stomachs. Furthermore, in each fish type different plastic sizes were found (macro-, meso- and microplastic). For example 75% of ingested plastic in albacore were microplastics.

As microplastic can have chemical and biological impact not only to the fishes but potentially also to organisms that ingest them indirectly. The scientists underline the need to study further the way of plastics through the food chain, the especially considering that the investigated species are of high consumption in the Mediterranean Sea and the implications for humans who consume these fishes are not yet understood.


STORY SOURCE: The above post is written based on materials provided by: Marine Pollution Bulletin. (Romeo et al. 2015). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


CITE THIS PAGE: “Do we eat plastic fishes?” The Blue Reporters, 22 December 2015 <>

Share This: