Assessment of multiple impacts of marine litter in the Adriatic Sea: from fishing for litter to fish species

, Panti Cristina, Baini Matteo, Galli Matteo, Giani Dario, Limonta Giacomo, Concato Margherita, Pasanisi Eugenia, Galasso Gabriele, Delaney Eugenia, Pojana Giulio, Fossi Maria Cristina.

The AdriCleanFish project aimed to study the impact of marine litter in the fishing system and how this can affect fish species and fishing resources. The study was carried out through the removal of marine litter by fishing vessels, the analysis of collected litter, the analysis of floating marine litter and microplastic ingestion and effects on fish species of commercial interest for human consumption. The areas of interest were located in the Adriatic Sea (Chioggia and Civitanova Marche). The collected material from the sea bottom was characterized to assess weight, volume, number and composition. In addition, the presence of macro-, meso- and microplastics in fish species (European anchovy, hake, European pilchard, sole, horse mackerel and red mullet) was determined. The results show an average concentration of floating microplastics and marine litter on the surface of study area in line with the average values of the Mediterranean. Form marine litter collected by the “fishing for litter” activities from the bottom, the data confirm that plastic materials are the most frequently found (more than 70%) and the most abundant in term of weight. The plastic objects analyzed are mainly disposable and packaging items (eg. bags and bottles), having a land-based origin and they are also related to maritime activities, to fishing and aquaculture. In all the fish species analyzed, the presence of plastic in the gastro-intestinal tracts was detected. On average, 2 fish out of 10 had ingested from one to five microplastics. The pelagic species (anchovy and pilchard) have the highest percentage of occurrence of ingested microplastics. PCBs and PBDEs were also measured in the muscle of fish species as well as biomarker responses. The results show negligible effects related to plastic ingestion by fish as well as low levels of contaminant accumulation in fish with microplastics in their gastro-intestinal tract.

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