A new survey by Greenpeace's Mediterranean arm says 91% of stuffed mussels sold in Turkey contained microplastics, as well as nearly half of fish examined for the survey
Greenpeace Mediterranean’s new survey on microplastics pollution in Turkey’s fisheries revealed 91% of stuffed mussels examined for the survey contained microplastics. The environmental organization’s dire report showed that 44% of fish examined contained microplastics as well. Microplastics or plastics that are smaller than five millimeters are already an alarming issue in the world and Turkey has its fair share of microplastic-containing seafood. The survey also shows 18% of shrimp examined also contained microplastics. The environmental organization link the high amount to single-use plastics. Stuffed mussels are popular street food in Turkey and street vendors serving the delicious dish with spiced rice and lemon is a common sight in the country. Yet, the Greenpeace survey shows that mussels are also not safe from microplastics, like other maritime species. Microplastics are about the size of a sesame seed and are ubiquitous both on land and at sea. They are pieces of larger plastic products from synthetic clothing to car tires. According to environmental group WWF, 8.8 million tons of plastic enters the oceans every year, the equivalent of a garbage truck dumping a full load every minute. On current trends, warns the U.N., there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050. Greenpeace, which seeks a ban on single-use plastic products, collected samples from a wide variety of fish, from goatfish to mackerel, from flathead grey mullet to red shrimp collected from seas of Marmara, Aegean and Mediterranean and examined their stomach and digestion systems. They also collected samples from stuffed mussels made of mussels from the Aegean Sea and the Marmara Sea and sold in the cities of Adana, Ankara, Istanbul and İzmir and the southwestern town of Bodrum. In the study 243 fish, 32 shrimps and 317 stuffed mussels were analyzed. The survey says about 65% of flathead grey mullet, a popular seafood in Turkey, contained microplastics. Overall, almost one in every two fish contained microplastics, the survey says. It also says that nine out of 10 fish collected from Marmara Sea contained microplastics. For stuffed mussels, every six of an average of 10 stuffed mussels had them as well. Researchers say there is a risk of consuming six pieces of microplastics when one consumes 100 grams of stuffed mussels. The most common form of microplastics was those originated from single-use plastics [from disposable items like bags, straws, stirrers, etc.]. Nihan Temiz Ataş, a Greenpeace Mediterranean official, says the survey showed how concerning plastic pollution is for sea species and human health. “What is more concerning is that a majority of those microplastics are polymer plastics used in the production of single-use plastics. There is only one solution to this problem and it is to change our consumption culture. We cannot destroy plastic, we have to face the truth that throwing it away is not a solution and plastics are now in our dishes. Turkey, like the European Union, should ban single-use plastic products,” she told Demirören News Agency (DHA). Sedat Gündoğdu, an associate professor at Çukurova University’s Faculty of Maritime Products, says sea species at times accidentally swallow small shards of plastic and this may cause their death if they choke on microplastics. “Particles can block their digestion system and smaller ones can be accumulated inside or on their organs. Once humans consume the fish, they are transferred to the human body and this, in turn, can cause serious health problems,” he told DHA.
Gündoğdu said the amount detected in several fish species in Turkey were higher than those in other surveys conducted in other parts of the world. “It is almost [like] we are living in a plastic cage and we need extraordinary measures,” he said.
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