Plastic fragments in Med create risk to food-chain

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IN the Mediterranean there are around 250 billion microscopic pieces of plastic floating around. This creates a biological risk that echoes up the food-chain according to research supported by green campaigners. Water samples taken in July off France, northern Italy and Spain to a depth of 10 to 15 centimetres were analysed by French and Belgian marine biologists.

Of the samples taken by volunteers from Expedition Mediterranean in Danger (MED), 90 per cent contained 4,371 minuscule pieces of plastic.

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This “extrapolates to roughly 500 tonnes for the entire Mediterranean,” explained Francois Galgani of the French Institute for Exploration of the Sea (Ifremer).

As micro-sized plastic becomes mixed with plankton, which is then consumed by small fish, which in turn are eaten by larger predators; it is a continuing hazard.

Mediterranian_Sea_16.61811E_38.99124N_webEvidence is building-up about the damage this does to larger forms of marine life, including seals and tortoises.


“The only solution is to stop micro-debris at the sources,” said Expedition MED’s Bruno Dumontet.

The group is launching an on-line petition to demand tougher European Union (EU) rules on the disposal and bio-degradability of consumer goods.

Only surface waters were sampled in this preliminary evaluation; further samples off Gibraltar, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisa, Sardinia and southern Italy will be taken this year to get a wider picture.


By Nicole Hallett


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