Saowalak Khaosaeng, research assistant at the provincial Marine National Park Operation Centre 3, said they began the research after daily morning study of sea debris revealed it was having an affect on the food chain in the sea off Hat Chao Mai beach, the habitat of affordable commercial fish.
Researchers at the centre then collected mackerel from coastal fishermen near the Hat Chao Mai National Park, and examined the fish stomachs. They found an average 78 pieces of microplastic 1-5 millimetres across in the stomach of each collected mackerel, she said.
Ocean currents and saltiness broke plastic waste down into microplastic which the mackerel ate, mistaking it for food, Ms Saowalak said.
The centre planned to expand its research to include mackerel meat and other popular commercial marine life, including shellfish, and its affect on their health, she said.
“This research is intended to make people aware how waste should be disposed of and what the ecosystems are today.
“Sea debris becomes a crisis. Everyone should help solve the root cause, especially by reducing the amount of waste dumped,” Ms Saowalak said.
Asked if the finding could discourage people from eating mackerel, she said plastic debris was certainly not found only in mackerel.
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