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IMARPE researcher Sara Purca during her presentation at conference held by National Fisheries Society.

Microplastics presence in Peruvian sea’s species still low, according to IMARPE

  (PERU, 11/30/2018)

Latest research reveals that the contamination caused by microplastics in Peruvian coastal species is still low compared to other latitudes of the world where this presence is worrisome, said researcher at the Directorate General for Research in Aquaculture of the Institute of Marine Affairs of ​​Peru (IMARPE) Sara Purca.

During her participation in the cycle of Marine Sustainability Conferences SNP, organized by the National Fisheries Society (SNP), the official said that IMARPE is evaluating the degree of contamination in other coastal areas of the country where artisanal fishing is practised. 

"In Peru, the first reports on pollution and potential generation of marine waste that were issued in 2007 registered 1.5 million tonnes of waste per year along the Peruvian coast. On a polluted beach, such as Costa Azul in Callao, we found 450 microplastics particles in each square metre of beach. However, this level is better than pollution of beaches in Asia, where the level reaches 1,200 particles per square metre," she said.

In her presentation, the researcher clarified that it is important not to generate alarm about the presence of microplastics in the marine species consumed by the population, since there is no scientific evidence to show that the particles can move from the digestive tract to the muscle, which is the part consumed by people.

"To date, we know that microplastics are housed in the stomach or digestive tract of marine species, whose parts are not part of the population's consumption. That is why, it is important to continue investigating to know the degree of contamination and the impact that this situation can generate on people's health," she said.

For his part, SNP vice president Ricardo Bernales considered it important to organize forums where authorities and actors related to the fishing, environmental and marine sector discuss issues such as reducing the presence of microplastics at sea. "This previous step is important to raise awareness among citizens who still do not understand the seriousness of the problem that can be generated," he said.

He also indicated that from the SNP a permanent concern is the sustainability of the fisheries, and in that sense, the presence of this plastic waste generates a waste that threatens the health of hydrobiological species.

►At least 170 species of vertebrates and marine invertebrates intake remains that come from objects manufactured by humans, which poses a great risk to health since microplastics can absorb and then release toxic contaminants or filter added chemicals during the manufacturing process (Photo: Greenpeace)

The expert from IMARPE said that a United Nations study estimated that the mass of plastic in the oceans could reach 250 million tonnes by the year 2025. 94 per cent of these particles are lodged in the sediments and on the seabed and only 1 per cent corresponds to the plastic "islands" that are concentrated in the high seas.

"The marine waste patch located in the Pacific is made up of 79,000 tonnes of plastic, floating in an area that is three times the size of France," he said.

Purca said it is very complicated to clean the sea of ​​microplastics, so the solution is the responsibility of all citizens to use these materials as little as possible in everyday life.

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