One Third of Fish Caught in English Channel Have Plastic Contamination

The Guardian reported last week that one third of the fish collected from the English Channel for study have been found to contain plastic contamination -- a figure which is uncomfortably high.The study was conducted by Plymouth University, and the findings were published in the journal the Marine Pollution Bulletin. Rebecca Smithers of the Guardian's Environmental section writes that the research observed over 500 individual fish, and found that the presence of plastic in the form of microbeads, as well as from sanitary products and carrier beads, were very present in the observed animals. Smithers reports:

This, say the researchers, could carry serious physical consequences for fish, creating blockages in their digestive systems or giving them a false sense of being full.

The fish – including popular species such as whiting, horse mackerel, John Dory and red gurnard – were collected from costal waters 10km south-west of Plymouth, at a depth of around 55 metres. Between one to 15 pieces of plastic were found in those 184 fish found to have synthetic polymers found in their gastrointestinal tract.

While the study didn't find any health risks posed to humans by the presence of plastics in the digestive tracts of the fish, one of the researchers involved with the project commented that the pollution is a product of a throw-away culture that thrives all around the world. For more information on this study, or on the evidence of microbeads in marine life, please see the full article on the Guardian's website here.

Image via yamuhaton on Flickr

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