An investigation by the Eomar group of the University Institute for Research in Sustainable Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems (IU-Ecoaqua) of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, recently published in the prestigious Marine Pollution Bulletin documents for the first time the intake of plastics in farmed seabass , one of the most important commercial fish species in the world.
In the study, which bears the title of Evidence on ingestion of microplastic by farmed seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax), and in which the Earth and Environmental Science Department of the University of Milan Bicocca (Italy) and the Oceanographic Center of the Canary Islands have also participated. , reveals that of the 83 seabass examined, 53 had ingested some type of garbage of human origin, which represents 65% of the total sample investigated.
Residues of human origin were found in the digestive tracts of animals
In total, evidence was found on the existence of 119 particles of anthropogenic waste in the digestive tracts of the fish studied between 2016 and 2017, most of them, 97.5%, they were microplastics of less than 5 millimeters.
Most of the plastics found in seabass were made up of cellulose or cellophane fibers, fragments of polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE), one of the most common and most used plastics in the world thanks to its simplicity and at the low cost of its manufacture. However, less common polymers were also found, such as polynorbornen or phenolic resin, (found for the first time in the digestive systems of fish), or remains of fishing nets and films.
Evidence on the colors of the aforementioned particles (26% blue, 24% yellow, 17% black and 14% transparent) added to their morphology and the types of polymers found in combination with the location From the aquaculture cages, the researchers sign the work: Stefanie Reinold, Alicia Herrera, Francesco Saliu, Carlos Hernández-González, Ico Martínez, Marina Lasagni and May Gómez; suspect the existence of a relevant connection between pollution caused by urban centers, tourist and marine leisure activities, sewage treatment plants, among other factors, so the figure could be similar if the study carried out referred to catch fish.
In fact, last year, another study by researchers from the IU-Ecoaqua of the ULPGC, in which Alicia Herrera, Ico Martínez and May Gómez also participated, among others, in collaboration with the Polytechnic University of Valencia and the University of Delaware (United States), determined that 94 of the 120 mackerels bought in brotherhoods of Lanzarote and Gran Canaria for their research, contained microplastics in their stomachs, 80% of the total sample. In this case, 260 polymer particles smaller than 5 millimeters were found in the digestive tracts of this other important marine species on a commercial scale.
Scientists see a relationship with the pollution of urban and tourist centers
As a consequence of these studies by the Eomar group of the IU-Ecoaqua, the researchers warn about the urgency of “becoming aware of this problem and improving the regulation and management of wastewater discharges into the open sea.”
Marine Pollution Bulletin, the publication that records this research, is one of the world’s leading scientific journals on marine pollution. It is in Q1 in the area of marine biology and has an impact factor of 4,049, according to the 2020 Journal Citation Reports.