Concerns over effects of plastic disposal on marine life

Sim says Malaysia is not exempted from the problem of microplastics in its food sources. — Bernama

MERSING: The public should be concerned and sensitive to the effects of plastic disposal on the environment, especially to the marine ecosystem.

Deputy Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Sim Tze Tzin said the international scientific community had detected the presence of microplastics in human waste.

He said findings of studies conducted in many countries were worrying as plastic substances were not easily degradable and could take up to 1,000 years to decompose.

“Our country is not exempted from the problem of microplastics and it has been consumed by many people through their food, especially from fish.

“A study done in 2018 by the Fisheries Department with Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT), headed by Dr Najihah Muhammad, found that based on samples taken in different aquaculture breeding areas throughout the waters off the country, there was microplastic pollution in the ecosystem, ” he said.

Sim was speaking to reporters after a two-day visit to the Mersing Marine Park in conjunction with the Marine Park Day here.

He said without anyone realising it, plastic waste disposal in rivers had reached the seas where the plastics would be eaten by fish which are later consumed by humans.

“Microplastics are very small in size, about one micron to five millimetres, and they are eaten by small fish which are eaten by bigger fish which are then eaten by humans and enter our bodies.

“This food chain is very worrying as it could cause serious health problems to mankind, ” he said.

Sim added that although the results of the study was not evidence that all caged fish were contaminated by microplastics, there must be more public awareness about the dangers of plastic use, and the habit of using rivers and the sea as rubbish dumps must stop. – Bernama

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