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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Assessment of microplastics derived from mariculture in Xiangshan Bay, China

Minglong Chen, Meng Jin, Peiran Tao, Zheng Wang, Weiping Xie, Xubiao Yu, Kan Wang
Environmental Pollution 2018, 242 (Pt B): 1146-1156
30099319
Mariculture activities including enclosure, raft and cage cultures employ a variety of plastic gear such as fishing nets, buoyant material and net cages. The plastic gear poses a potential source of microplastics to the coastal environment, but relevant data on the impacts of mariculture are still limited. To this end, a semi-enclosed narrow bay (i.e., Xiangshan Bay, China) with a long-term mariculture history was investigated to assess how mariculture activities affect microplastics in seawater and sediment. The results indicated that mariculture-derived microplastics accounted for approximately 55.7% and 36.8% of the microplastics in seawater and sediment, respectively. The average microplastic abundances of seawater and sediment were 8.9 ± 4.7 (mean ± SD, n = 18) items/m3 seawater and 1739 ± 2153 (n = 18) items/kg sediment, respectively. The types of mariculture-derived microplastics included polyethylene (PE) foam, PE nets, PE film, polypropylene (PP) rope, polystyrene (PS) foam and rubber. PE foam had the highest proportion (38.6%) in the seawater samples. High usage rates and the porous structure of PE foam led to the high abundance. The average microplastic sizes of seawater and sediment are 1.54 ± 1.53 mm and 1.33 ± 1.69 mm, respectively. The spatial variations in the abundance and size of microplastics implied that the mariculture-derived microplastics in Xiangshan Bay were transported along the Bay to the open sea. The results of this study indicate that mariculture activity can be a significant source of microplastics. Further research is required to investigate how the high microplastic abundance in mariculture zone affects marine organisms, especially cultured seafood.

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