Project number: 2021-117
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $60,513.00
Principal Investigator: Bronwyn M. Gillanders
Organisation: University of Adelaide
Project start/end date: 31 May 2022 - 30 Jul 2023


The project will review and synthesise available global data on the potential effects and implications that plastic is causing in seafood species in the context of the impacts they generate to fishing and aquaculture sectors. Concurrently, using published literature on sources of marine pollution, the abundance of plastic entering aquatic systems from seafood related sources will be quantified, with particular focus to the Australian context. Ultimately, this will give the fisheries sector, particularly in an Australian setting, the knowledge to evaluate where appropriate mitigation strategies are necessary and reduce the presence and impacts of microplastics in seafood.

This project aligns with FRDC R&D Plan Outcome 1: Growth and Enduring prosperity; In particular, it targets the priorities of:
- Improving the understanding of the cause and extent of impacts to aquatic systems and what is needed to improve them
- Promote a circular economy to remove waste from the processing system, keep products and materials in use and promote the repair of natural systems

Providing information on how marine pollution may affect the seafood industry and seafood species fished will guide the urgency of future research and allow management and mitigation strategies that support the seafood sector to be developed. Ultimately, quantifying the amount of plastic contributed by the seafood sector to marine plastics will allow us to advance with solutions and uncover where plastic alternatives are most needed.


1. Undertake a systematic review, collating, synthesising and analysing global data on the effects and implications of plastic pollution in seafood species and the seafood industry
2. Identify potential sources of plastic in marine environments, including the percentage coming through fishing and aquaculture
3. Highlight key knowledge gaps, opportunities and threats of plastic in the seafood sector
4. Disseminate findings and information on effects and implications of plastic pollution on seafood species to fishers and managers

Final report

Authors: Nina Wootton Patrick Reis-Santos and Bronwyn M Gillanders
Final Report • 2023-09-27 • 3.65 MB


Microplastics are commonly consumed by seafood species however, there is still limited understanding of the effects and implications that microplastics may have on the fishing and aquaculture industry. This project summarises research on the effects that microplastic may be having on seafood species and the contribution that the seafood industry is having to marine plastic pollution. Global literature on microplastic effects in seafood species revealed 1) that 93% of all species were negatively affected by plastics, although many studies used increased levels of microplastic contamination that are not environmentally relevant (i.e., generally do not reflect environmental conditions); and 2) 23% of plastic pollution in the marine and coastal environment originates from fishing and aquaculture sources. This
report provides clear-sighted recommendations on the threats and opportunities that plastics hold for the seafood sector, as well as avenues for potential mitigation and reduction.

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