Plastic debris ingestion by marine catfish: an unexpected fisheries impact

Fernanda E Possatto, Mário Barletta, Monica F Costa, Juliana A Ivar do Sul, David V Dantas
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2011, 62 (5): 1098-102
Plastic marine debris is a pervasive type of pollution. River basins and estuaries are a source of plastics pollution for coastal waters and oceans. Estuarine fauna is therefore exposed to chronic plastic pollution. Three important catfish species [Cathorops spixii (N=60), Cathorops agassizii (N=60) and Sciades herzbergii (N=62)] from South Western Atlantic estuaries were investigated in a tropical estuary of the Brazilian Northeast in relation to their accidental ingestion of plastic marine debris. Individuals from all three species had ingested plastics. In C. spixii and C. agassizii, 18% and 33% of individuals had plastic debris in their stomachs, respectively. S. herzbergii showed 18% of individuals were contaminated. All ontogenetic phases (juveniles, sub-adults and adults) were contaminated. Nylon fragments from cables used in fishery activities (subsistence, artisanal and commercial) played a major role in this contamination. These catfish spend their entire life cycles within the estuary and are an important feeding resource for larger, economically important, species. It is not yet possible to quantify the scale and depth of the consequences of this type of pollution. However, plastics are well known threat to living resources in this and other estuaries. Conservation actions will need to from now onto take plastics pollution into consideration.

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