In the USA, 25% of fish sold at markets contain man-made debris, says study

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man-made debris
Types of anthropogenic debris in market fish products sampled from Indonesia and the United States.

Debris are pieces of rubbish or remains. They are generated during human activities in daily life. Debris can be a pollutant that seriously harms the natural environment.

Now research shows that debris can threaten our health via seafood. One study published in Scientific Reports shows that in the USA, 25% of fish sold at markets contain man-made debris.

Researchers from University of California at Davis and University of Hasanuddin in Indonesia conducted the study. They examined man-made debris in fishes and shellfish on sale for human consumption.

Researchers obtained fish samples from markets in Makassar, Indonesia, and from Half Moon Bay, California, USA. They selected 76 whole fish/shellfish from each market. All fish samples were identified to specifies where possible.

After that, they extracted man-made debris from the digestive tracts of finish and whole shellfish with a chemical and then examined the debris with a dissecting microscope.

The result showed that in Indonesia, about 28% of individual fish contained man-made debris and 55% of all fish species in the sample contain debris.

Similarly, in the USA, about 25% of individual fish contained man-made debris and 67% of all fish species in the sample contain debris.

In addition, man-made debris were also found in 33% of individual shellfish species.

Researchers recovered the debris in two places and found that in Indonesia the main debris were plastic, whereas in the USA the main debris were fibers. Different debris types might reflect different waste sources and waste management strategies between counties.

Researchers also found that plastic and fiber debris were mainly found in fishes’ guts. This means if people eat the whole fish, they are likely to ingest the debris. Future research will examine if these debris can transfer into the meat.


Citation: Rochman CM, et al. (2015). Anthropogenic debris in seafood: Plastic debris and fibers from textiles in fish and bivalves sold for human consumption. Scientific Reports 5: 14340 (2015). doi: 10.1038/srep14340.
Figure legend: This Knowridge.com image is credited to Rochman, CM et al.