Microplastics detected in three quarters of fish in southern New Zealand: research

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WELLINGTON, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- Scientists from the University of Otago have found microplastics in three quarters of commercial fish species of southern New Zealand.

Fish at the bottom and surface of the sea ingested a similar quantity, shape, size and color of microplastics, according to the study published in the latest issue of the Marine Pollution Bulletin on Friday.

"Plastics are ubiquitous throughout global marine ecosystems. To date, there has been limited research on the prevalence of microplastic ingestion by commercially important marine fish in the southern hemisphere, particularly in the South Pacific," the study said.

This research aimed to quantify ingested microplastics from 10 commercially important fish species from southern New Zealand using microscopy and Raman Spectroscopy.

Microplastic fibers were the most common shape of microplastic ingested, the study said, adding that polyethylene was the most commonly detected polymer by Raman Spectroscopy.

Scientists found evidence of microplastic ingestion in 75 percent of fish by looking at a sample of 155 fish from 10 common species caught off the Otago coast over one year.

An average of 2.5 individual particles were detected per fish, the study said, adding that microplastic fibers were the most commonly ingested. The most common colored microplastics ingested were blue, black and red, and 99.68 percent of plastics identified were smaller than 5 mm.

Further research is necessary to ascertain the human ecological and health risks involved when exposed to microplastics through eating plastic-contaminated fish, according to the researchers.

The New Zealand government announced on Friday funding for projects that will cut plastic waste and reduce its impact on the environment, Environment Minister David Parker said in a statement. Enditem

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