Microplastics occurrence in edible fish species (Mullus barbatus and Merluccius merluccius) collected in three different geographical sub-areas of the Mediterranean Sea

Marine Pollution Bullettin

Volume: 140 Pages: 129-137  ISSN: 0025-326X Doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2019.01.005

Authors: Dario Giani, Matteo Baini, Matteo Galli, Silvia Casini, Maria Cristina Fossi

Abstract: The gastrointestinal tracts of 229 demersal fish belonging to two species (Mullus barbatus, Merluccius merluccius) were examined for microplastic ingestion. Samples were collected in 3 different FAO Geographical Sub-Areas (GSA-9, GSA-17, GSA-19) of the Mediterranean Sea. Ingested microplastics were characterized using a stereo-microscope: observed, photographed, measured and categorized according to size class, shape and colour. Plastic fragments (ranging from 0.10 to 6.6 mm) were detected in 23.3% of the total investigated fish; a total of 65 plastic particles (66% constituted by fibers) were recorded. The percentage of plastic ingestion shows high variability between the two species and among the different sampling area. The highest frequency (48%) was found in European hake from GSA-19. These preliminary results represent a baseline for the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive descriptor 10 in Italy as well as an important step for detecting microplastics in bioindicator species from different GSAs.