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BFAR calls for more studies on microplastics after traces found in fish

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on Friday said there is a need for more research on microplastics after traces of the pollutant were detected in several fish species, specifically bangus (milkfish), in Mindanao. 

BFAR spokesperson Nazer Briguera called on researchers to conduct an in-depth study on microplastics, saying the World Health Organization (WHO) has yet to issue a standard in terms of its toxicity and impact on human health.  

“We urge our research institutions, even international partners na magsagawa na po ng malawakang pag-aaral tungkol sa microplastics,” Briguera said in an interview on Balitanghali.

(We urge our research institutions, even international partners, to conduct an in-depth study on microplastics.)

“Kasi wala po tayong hawak pa na pag-aaral tungkol dito sa microplastics at ang impact po nito sa atin sa tao,” he said. 

(We don’t have an existing study on microplastics and its impact on health.)

Microplastics are tiny particles produced from the degradation of plastic materials.  Among its major sources is the packaging of consumer goods that as trash eventually end up in sewage and later, the ocean.

A recent study by the Department of Science and Technology  National Research Council of the Philippines showed microplastic contents were found in fish species in different fishponds in Mindanao, with around 60% of samples containing concentrations of microplastic in their digestive systems.  

According to Briguera, microplastics are not visible to the naked eye. Studies on its effect on the taste of fish and other seafood have also yet to be conducted. 

“Microplastics ay galing po 'yan sa pollution, so kailangan po magkaroon na talaga ng isang komprehensibong pagsulong para po talaga maiwasan ang pagtatapon ng basura sa ating kalikasan,” he said. 

(Microplastics are from pollution, so there should really be a comprehensive push against the practice of throwing garbage to nature.)

In August 2022, a study revealed the Philippines as one of the leading countries that pollute the ocean.

To address this, Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga earlier called on major corporations to lead in the collection of plastic waste, with a target of collecting 80% of plastic waste by 2028. —KBK, GMA Integrated News