Fishing activities, such as raft cultures for oysters (seen here), could have deposited microplastics deep in sediments of China’s Beibu Gulf, researchers find. Credit: Yinghui Wang

Microplastic pollution in the world’s oceans is a growing problem, and most studies of the issue have focused on land-based sources, such as discarded plastic bags or water bottles. Now, researchers reporting in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology have linked microplastics in China’s Beibu Gulf with heavy fishing activities. Surprisingly, many of the particles were hidden in deep sediments on the ocean floor, which could have led scientists to underestimate the extent of the contamination.

Fishing gear, such as nets, ropes and pots, is a potential sea-based source of microplastics. The tiny particles could be worn away from fishing gear during use, or they might arise when the gear is lost…



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