Widespread microplastic ingestion by fish assemblages in tropical estuaries subjected to anthropogenic pressures

Our aim was to quantify microplastic ingestion by fish assemblages in two tropical Brazilian estuaries and to evaluate whether biological and ecological factors influence the ingestion of microplastics by fish species. Of 2233 fish from both estuaries (from 69 species) examined in this study, 9% of the individuals (24 species) had microplastics in their gut contents. Microplastic ingestion occurred irrespective of fish size and functional group. The diet of fish species was analyzed based on prey items identified in the fish’s full stomach contents and five feeding guilds were defined. Microplastics were common throughout all feeding guilds. Low (average ingestion values 1.06 ± 0.30 items/total fish) but widespread occurrence among estuaries also indicates proliferation of microplastic pollution. Our findings highlight the need to focus on assemblage level studies to understand the real magnitude of the problem and emphasize the urgency of mitigation measures directed at microplastic pollution in estuarine ecosystems.

A.L. Vendel, F. Bessa, V.E.N. Alves, A.L.A. Amorim, J. Patrício, A.R.T. Palma, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 117, Issues 1–2, 15 April 2017, Pages 448–455

The article

Microplastics as contaminants in commercially important seafood species

The ingestion of microplastic fragments, spheres, and fibers by marine mollusks, crustaceans, and fish, including a number of commercially important species, appears to be a widespread and pervasive phenomenon. Evidence is also growing for direct impacts of microplastic ingestion on physiology, reproductive success and survival of exposed marine organisms, and transfer through food webs, although the ecological implications are not yet known. Concerns also remain over the capacity for microplastics to act as vectors for harmful chemical pollutants, including plastic additives and persistent organic pollutants, although their contribution must be evaluated alongside other known sources. The potential for humans, as top predators, to consume microplastics as contaminants in seafood is very real, and its implications for health need to be considered. An urgent need also exists to extend the geographical scope of studies of microplastic contamination in seafood species to currently underrepresented areas, and to finalize and adopt standardized methods and quality-assurance protocols for the isolation, identification, and quantification of microplastic contaminants from biological tissues. Such developments would enable more robust investigation of spatial and temporal trends, thereby contributing further evidence as a sound basis for regulatory controls. Despite the existence of considerable uncertainties and unknowns, there is already a compelling case for urgent actions to identify, control, and, where possible, eliminate key sources of both primary and secondary microplastics before they reach the marine environment.

D. Santillo, K. Miller, P. Johnston, Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, Volume 13, Number 3, pp. 516–521, May 2017

The article

Is the feeding type related with the content of microplastics in intertidal fish gut?

Microplastics pollution is a growing global concern that affects all aquatic ecosystems. Microplastics in the environment can be in the form of fibers and/or particles, being the former the most abundant in the marine environment, representing up to 95% of total plastics. The aim of this work was to compare the content of microplastics among intertidal fish with different feeding type.

Our results show that omnivorous fish presented a higher amount of microplastic fibers than registered in herbivores and carnivores. Moreover, lower condition factors (K) were found in omnivorous specimens with higher microplastic content. We hypothesized that the type of feeding resulted in different microplastic ingestion, with species with wider range of food sources as omnivores with higher rates. Futures studies carried out to evaluate the biological impacts of microplastics on marine organisms, and microplastics cycling on the marine environment should consider the type of feeding of the studied species.

Ricardo Mizraji, Camila Ahrendt, Diego Perez-Venegas and al., Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 116, Issues 1–2, 15 March 2017, Pages 498–500

Morphology of the filtration apparatus of three planktivorous fishes and relation with ingested anthropogenic particles

Anthropogenic particles (APs), including microplastics, are ingested by a wide variety of marine organisms. Exposure of Clupeiformes (e.g. herrings, anchovies, sardines) is poorly studied despite their economic and ecological importance. This study aims to describe the morphology of the filtration apparatus of three wild-caught Clupeiformes (Sardina pilchardus, Clupea harengus and Engraulis encrasicolus) and to relate the results to ingested APs. Consequently, the species with the more efficient filtration apparatus will be more likely to ingest APs. We hypothesized that sardines were the most exposed species. The filtration area and particle retention threshold were determined in the three species, with sardines displaying the highest filtration area and the closest gill rakers. Sardines ingested more fibers and smaller fragments, confirming that it is the most efficient filtering species. These two results lead to the conclusion that, among the three studied, the sardine is the species most exposed to APs.

France Collard, Bernard Gilbert, Gauthier Eppe and al., Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 116, Issues 1–2, 15 March 2017, Pages 182–191

The article

Microplastics pollution after the removal of the Costa Concordia wreck: First evidences from a biomonitoring case study

Microplastics (MPs) represent a matter of growing concern for the marine environment. Their ingestion has been documented in several species worldwide, but the impact of specific anthropogenic activities remains largely unexplored. In this study, MPs were characterized in different benthic fish sampled after 2.5 years of huge engineering operations for the parbuckling project on the Costa Concordia wreck at Giglio Island. Fish collected in proximity of the wreck showed a high ingestion of microplastics compared to both fish from a control area and values reported worldwide. Also the elevated percentage of nylon, polypropylene lines and the presence of polystyrene are quite unusual for marine organisms sampled in natural field conditions, thus supporting the possible relationship of ingested microplastics with maritime operations during wreck removal. On the other hand, the use of transplanted mussels revealed a lower frequency of ingested MPs, and did not discriminate differences between the wreck and the control area. Some variations were observed in terms of typology and size of particles between surface- and bottom-caged mussels highlighting the influence of a different distribution of MPs along the water column. In conclusion, this study demonstrated that MPs pollution in the area of Costa Concordia was more evident on benthonic environment than on seawater column, providing novel insights on the possibility of using appropriate sentinel organisms for monitoring specific anthropogenic sources of MPs pollution in the marine environment.

Carlo Giacomo Avio, Lara Roberta Cardelli, Stefania Gorbi and al., Environmental Pollution, Volume 227, August 2017,  Pages 207–214

The article

The influence of microplastic inclusion in feed on carryover of environmental pollutants from feed to seabass and salmon

Themes :

  1. Safe seafood the consumers can trust: protection in the new Era
  2. Marine toxins in seafood and the environment: developments in detection and prediction
  3. Toxicity and modelling: tools and limitations
  4. Rapid detection tools for seafood safety
  5. Quality assurance of seafood monitoring data
  6. Emerging approaches for future seafood safety
  7. Science slam session*
  8. Others

Granby, Kit; Rasmussen, Rie Romme; Kotterman, Michiel; Sloth, Jens Jørgen; Cederberg, Tommy Licht; Marques, António T. ; Koelmans, Albert; Larsen, Bodil Katrine
Published in: Seafood safety new findings ; innovation challenges – 25-26 January 2017 –  abstract book here

Microplastic ingestion in fish larvae in the western English Channel

Microplastics have been documented in marine environments worldwide, where they pose a potential risk to biota. Environmental interactions between microplastics and lower trophic organisms are poorly understood. Coastal shelf seas are rich in productivity but also experience high levels of microplastic pollution. In these habitats, fish have an important ecological and economic role. In their early life stages, planktonic fish larvae are vulnerable to pollution, environmental stress and predation. Here we assess the occurrence of microplastic ingestion in wild fish larvae. Fish larvae and water samples were taken across three sites (10, 19 and 35 km from shore) in the western English Channel from April to June 2016. We identified 2.9% of fish larvae (n = 347) had ingested microplastics, of which 66% were blue fibres; ingested microfibers closely resembled those identified within water samples. With distance from the coast, larval fish density increased significantly (P < 0.05), while waterborne microplastic concentrations (P < 0.01) and incidence of ingestion decreased. This study provides baseline ecological data illustrating the correlation between waterborne microplastics and the incidence of ingestion in fish larvae.

Madeleine Steer, Matthew Cole, Richard C. Thompson, Penelope K. Lindeque, Environmental Pollution, Available online 10 April 2017, In Press

The article