New figures reveal Irish coast has one of the highest levels of plastic pollution in the world
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New figures reveal Irish coast has one of the highest levels of plastic pollution in the world

URGENT CALLS have been made to scale back on waste following the release of new figures which reveal that 73% of Irish fish have plastic in them.

The study carried out by NUI Galway discovered that the north-west Atlantic has one of the highest concentrations of “microplastic occurrence” in fish worldwide.

The north-west coast of the country, renowned for its fantastic marine life, was highlighted as being one of the biggest worries in terms of microbead pollution, which consists of small particles in products such as toothpaste and shower gel.

Due to the low density of these materials, they float at sea surface.

The study sampled more than 230 deep-water fish located in the northwest Atlantic, thousands of kilometres from land and 600 metres down in the ocean.

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Of these 230 odd fish, 73 percent had microplastics in their stomachs, making it one of the highest reported frequencies of microplastic occurrence in fish worldwide.

A single lanternfish, which was examined as part of the study, had 13 microplastics extracted from its stomach contents. The fish was just 4,5cm in size.

The findings come just a week after the BBC announced that it was banning all plastic containers by 2020 following David Attenborough’s emotional plea to humanity.

Furthermore, the study backs up previous claims by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation which said oceans will hold more plastic than fish by the year 2050.

PhD candidate and lead author Alina Wieczorek said: “Deep-water fish migrate to the surface at night to feed on plankton (microscopic animals) and this is likely when they are exposed to the microplastics.

There is now evidence that some of these toxins on the microplastics can be transferred to animals that eat them, with potentially harmful effects.”

Co-author Dr Tom Doyle of the Ryan Institute at NUIG told the Irish Times: “It’s worrying to think that our daily activities, such as washing our synthetic clothes in our washing machines, results in billions of microplastics entering our oceans through our wastewater stream that may eventually end up in these deep-sea fishes.”

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