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Microplastic ingestion by commercial fishes in the Pearl River Estuary

Microplastic ingestion by commercial fishes in the Pearl River Estuary

  • Project Leader
  • Dr FOK, Lincoln (Department of Science and Environmental Studies) 
  • Description
  • The proposed study will investigate the occurrence and the spatio-temporal pattern of MP ingestion by commercial fish in the Pearl River Estuary. Culture and wild fish samples of the species greasy grouper (Serranidae) will be collected from local fish rafts and fishermen respectively. 
  • Scheme
  • General Research Fund 
  • Year
  • 2018/2019 

Marine plastic debris pollution has been identified by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as an emerging global environmental issue. In particular, the problem of microplastics (MP), or plastic debris smaller than 5mm, has attracted increasing attention in the recent years. Because of its small size, a range of marine organisms have been observed to ingest MP particles, including commercial species intended for human consumption. Ingestion of MP can lead to physical harm, although ingestion of MPs is rarely lethal. Despite evidence documented in field studies which identified the Pearl River estuary as a hotspot for MP pollution, studies with regard to ingestion by marine organisms intended for human consumption are scarce. The proposed study will investigate the occurrence and the spatio-temporal pattern of MP ingestion by commercial fish in the Pearl River Estuary. Culture and wild fish samples of the species greasy grouper (Serranidae) will be collected from local fish rafts and fishermen respectively. MP recovered from gastrointestinal tracts of sample fish will be counted, classified and identified using Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). Ingestion of MP by fish is a potential food safety issue, and a matter of public concern. Data collected in the project will represent a first step to understanding potential impacts of MP on human health.

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