Ingestion of plastic by fish destined for human consumption in remote South Pacific Islands

Last modified: 
January 16, 2019 - 10:37am
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2018
Date published: 04/2018
Authors: Alice Forrest, Mark Hindell
Journal title: Australian Journal of Maritime & Ocean Affairs
Pages: 1 - 17
ISSN: 1836-6503

Plastic marine debris is increasingly recognised as one of the greatest threats to global oceans, and the humans who depend on them. This study documents plastic ingestion in 24 species caught or sold for human consumption in the South Pacific. Fish were collected from local fishermen and markets in remote locations, including French Polynesia, Lord Howe Island and Henderson Island (Pitcairn group). Gastrointestinal tracts of 126 fish were visually examined and plastic was found in 7.9% of individual fish and 25% of species. The plastics were mostly microplastics (fragments, nurdles and rope). There was no significant difference in plastic ingestion in relation to feeding style, length, region or species. This is concerning as plastic appears to be widespread across species, lifestyles and habitats. This is the first report of plastic in South Pacific fish, raising concerns about the transfer of pollutants in a region that is largely oceanic and heavily dependent on seafood. The remote locations of the study also provide evidence of the widespread nature of this issue.

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