01 Jul 2011:
Nearly 10 Percent of Fish
Caught for Study Contain Plastic
Nearly 1 in 10 fish collected in the Pacific Ocean during a recent study contained plastic debris
, in what researchers call troubling evidence of the significant amount of plastic entering the food chain. The study, conducted by scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California,
Two lanternfish and plastic debris collected in study
San Diego, estimates that fish in the middle depths of the northern Pacific ingest 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic each year. As part of the study, scientists collected about 141 fish spanning 27 species in the notorious “Pacific Garbage Patch,” an area about 1,000 miles off the California coast contaminated with high volumes of plastic. Researchers found plastic debris in the stomachs of 9.2 percent of the fish collected, although they believe the proportion of fish that consume plastic is much higher. “We can’t tell how many fish ate plastic and died, how many fish ate plastic and regurgitate it or passed it out of their intestines,” said Rebecca Asch, a Scripps researcher and one of the authors of the study published in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series
. Because the fish caught as part of the study, including lanternfish, are a food source for larger Pacific fish, the scientists suggest those plastic contaminants could eventually end up in seafood consumed by humans.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
A look at how acidifying oceans could threaten the Dungeness crab, one of the most valuable fisheries on the U.S. West Coast. Watch the video.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
An aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S. View the photos.
An indigenous tribe’s deadly fight to save its ancestral land in the Amazon rainforest from logging. Learn more.
video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs. Watch the video.
Residents of the Chocó Rainforest in Ecuador are choosing to plant cacao over logging in an effort to slow deforestation.
Watch the video.
Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land. Watch the video.