A whole 500ml plastic bottle was found inside the stomach of a monkfish by a fisherman in South Korea.
The disturbing discovery was described as a wake-up call for governments to commit to reducing waste in the coastal areas.
The monkfish was caught along with ten others in the coastal town of Buan-Gun near North Jeolla on Monday.
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A whole 500ml plastic bottle was found inside the stomach of a monkfish by a fisherman in South Korea. The grim discovery is a wake-up call to governments to commit to reducing waste in the coastal areas
A fisherman named Hwang noticed that one of the them had a bloated stomach and cut it open expecting to find prey.
Monkfish are known for their wide mouths frequently swallow other species like squid or other flatfish, making them profitable finds for fishermen.
Expecting to find the prey it swallowed, he opened up the fish’s stomach, only to find the plastic bottle.
Environmental activists are calling for a ‘systemic response’ from the government to ensure safe disposal of plastic waste.
‘Hwang opened up the fish and found a plastic bottle, so he sent me a photo,’ said Lee In-gyu, a member of the Korean Federation of Environmental Movement’s North Jeolla branch.
‘It shows that the marine debris issue is quite severe in Korea.’
Local fishermen consider the waters near Buan County a rich fishing ground.
‘We’re finding more plastic and trash inside fish these days,’ Hwang said.
‘I’ve found vinyl products, cans and pieces of plastic inside some fish, and this is not limited to monkfish.
Earlier in this week, a sperm whale washed ashore off the Indonesian coast with almost 6kg of plastic inside it, including 115 plastic drinking cups. The rotting carcass of the 31-foot (9.5-meter) whale was found Monday in shallow waters just off Kapota Island
The whale had consumed a horrifying collection of plastic trash, including 115 drinking cups, 25 plastic bags, plastic bottles, two flip-flops and a bag containing more than 1,000 pieces of string
I’ve found plastic waste inside mudskippers and bartail flatheads, too.
‘It is worrying because people don’t seem to care for the environment.’
Earlier in this week, a sperm whale washed ashore off the Indonesian coast with almost 6kg of plastic inside it, including 115 plastic drinking cups.
A Greenpeace senior oceans campaigner said: ‘If nature had a distress signal to warn us that it can’t take any more of our plastic rubbish, it would look like this – a dead whale with 1,000 pieces of plastic in its stomach.
‘When the news about the dead whale broke, it seemed like something happening quite far away,’ said Lee Jeong-hyun, secretary general of the Korean Federation of Environmental Movement’s North Jeolla branch.
‘But the news about the monkfish that swallowed a whole plastic bottle shocked me. This is a warning for us all.’
HOW SEVERE IS INDONESIA’S PLASTIC WASTE PROBLEM?
Four of Indonesia’s rivers rank among the 20 most polluted in the world.
Plastic waste in Indonesia’s Ciliwung River
This means the country is the second-largest contributor to marine plastic pollution after China.
An estimated 200,000 tonnes of plastic flows into the world’s oceans from Indonesia’s rivers every year, mainly from Java and Sumatra.
As well as ocean pollution levels, the country’s plastic problem also affects its residents.
Microplastic produced by the break-down of larger pieces of waste are ingested by fish, and later passed up the food chain to humans.
Trash Free Seas Alliance (TFSA), a United States NGO, revealed in December 2017 that microplastics had been found in 28 per cent of fish in Indonesia’s markets.
According to a UN report published in 2017 at the Ocean Conference in New York, more than eight million tons of plastic waste are swept into the oceans every year.
They said that at that rate, by 2050 oceans will hold more plastic than fish.
Lee called for a government commitment to reducing waste in the coastal areas.
‘The government should come up with a more systemic response to collect sea-side waste in time.’
The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, a branch of the government in South Korea collects some 70,000 to 80,000 tons of waste in coastal areas every year.
But it says it cannot collect everything before it’s swept into the ocean.
‘We have some 180,000 tons of marine debris every year,’ the ministry said in a statement in May.
Marine biologists believe that the amount of plastic in the ocean now makes it next to impossible sea life to eat any nutritional food.
WHAT DOES THE DEEP-SEA DEBRIS DATABASE REVEAL ABOUT OCEAN PLASTIC POLLUTION?
Plastic pollution is a scourge that is ravaging the surface of our planet. Now, the polluting polymer is sinking down to the bottom of the ocean.
The deepest part of the ocean is found in the Mariana Trench, located in the western Pacific Ocean, to the east of the Mariana Islands. It stretches down nearly 36,100 feet (11,000 metres) below the surface.
One plastic bag was found 35,754 feet (10,898 metres) below the surface in this region, the deepest known piece of human-made pollution in the world. This single-use piece of plastic was found deeper than 33 Eiffel towers, laid tip to base, would reach.
Whilst the plastic pollution is rapidly sinking, it is also spreading further into the middle of the oceans. A piece of plastic was found over 620 miles (1,000 km) from the nearest coast – that’s further than the length of France.
The Global Oceanographic Data Center (Godac) of the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (Jamstec) launched for public use in March 2017.
In this database, there is the data from 5,010 different dives. From all of these different dives, 3,425 man-made debris items were counted.
More than 33 per cent of the debris was macro-plastic followed by metal (26 per cent), rubber (1.8 per cent), ﬁshing gear (1.7 per cent), glass (1.4 per cent), cloth/paper/lumber (1.3 per cent), and ‘other’ anthropogenic items (35 per cent).
It was also discovered that of all the waste found, 89 per cent of it was designed for single-use purposes. This is defined as plastic bags, bottles and packages. The deeper the study looked, the greater the amount of plastic they found.
Of all man-made items found deeper than 20,000 feet (6,000 metres), the ratios increased to 52 per cent for macro-plastic and 92 per cent for single-use plastic.
The direct damage this caused to the ecosystem and environment is clear to see as deep-sea organisms were observed in the 17 per cent of plastic debris images taken by the study.