Plastic litter and marine fish
The huge amount of man-made solid waste materials ending up in the oceans becoming marine litter was identified as one of the pressing global challenges. We investigate the amount of microplastics in marine fish and if this is a threat for the animal.
Marine litter comprises a wide range of materials such as glass, metal, wood, rubber and plastics. Plastic waste was already identified as special problem, because it persists in the environment. In European regions about 70-80% of marine litter is plastic. It was estimated that about 4.8 million tons plastic litter enters the oceans each year and accumulates due to low degradation rates.
Studies on marine litter are often based on an international agreed protocol ( e.g. ICES International Bottom Trawl Survey IBTS), for standardized recording of marine macro litter (> 2.5cm). Besides macro litter the small plastic particles - microplastic (< 5mm) - are of special interest. Microplastic is regarded as alarming from an ecologically point of view because it can be be taken up by marine organisms, might bioaccumulate in the food chain, or may cause harm to the animal or enhanced its contamination level.
The aim of PlasM is an improved risc assessment of plastic in the marine environment - especially for fish and the consumer.
According to current scientific knowledge, the small amounts of microplastics that are taken up by fish in the wild do not affect fish health and fitness, as well as consumers. We expect even at higher future microplastic concentrations in the sea no significant negative effects on fish. In contrast, macroplastic in the sea is a big problem and should be included in regular surveys of the North and Baltic Sea.
7.2017 - 12.2021
Project funding number: 2819108816
Funding program: Innovationsförderung
Project status: ongoing