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Aquaculture Environment Interactions

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AEI 11:357-374 (2019)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/aei00316

Microplastics in bivalves and their habitat in relation to shellfish aquaculture proximity in coastal British Columbia, Canada

Garth A. Covernton1,*, Brenna Collicutt2,3, Helen J. Gurney-Smith1,2,3,4, Christopher M. Pearce1,2,5, John F. Dower1, Peter S. Ross6, Sarah E. Dudas1,2,3,5

1University of Victoria, Victoria, BC V8P 5C2, Canada
2Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo, BC V9R 5S5, Canada
3Hakai Institute, Quadra Island, BC V0P 1H0, Canada
4St. Andrews Biological Station, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, St. Andrews, NB E5B 0E4, Canada
5Pacific Biological Station, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Nanaimo, BC V9T 6N7, Canada
6Coastal Ocean Research Institute, Ocean Wise Conservation Association, Vancouver, BC V6B 3X8, Canada
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Shellfish aquaculture often uses large amounts of plastic equipment and has been suggested as a potential source of microplastic contamination in the marine environment. To determine the influence of shellfish aquaculture on microplastic concentrations in bivalves and their environment, we compared microplastic particle (MP) concentrations in Manila clams Venerupis philippinarum and Pacific oysters Crassostrea gigas grown on commercial shellfish beaches with those in individuals of the same species grown on nearby non-aquaculture beaches in 6 regions of coastal British Columbia, Canada. MP concentrations did not differ between shellfish aquaculture and non-aquaculture sites for either bivalve species, sediment, or water samples. Plastic presence differed by site and oysters on sites with many synthetic anti-predator nets contained significantly, yet marginally, more MPs than those on sites without (0.05 vs. 0.03 g-1 dry-tissue weight on average). However, analysis of suspected MPs using Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy indicated a predominance of fibres from textiles (including nylon and polyester), which are not typically used in shellfish aquaculture, suggesting that this may be caused by the larger average body weight of oysters grown at non-aquaculture sites rather than by the degradation of aquaculture infrastructure.


KEY WORDS: Microfibre · Ingestion · Food safety · Mariculture


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Cite this article as: Covernton GA, Collicutt B, Gurney-Smith HJ, Pearce CM, Dower JF, Ross PS, Dudas SE (2019) Microplastics in bivalves and their habitat in relation to shellfish aquaculture proximity in coastal British Columbia, Canada. Aquacult Environ Interact 11:357-374. https://doi.org/10.3354/aei00316

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