Assessment of plastic ingestion by pole-caught pelagic predatory fish from O'ahu, Hawai'i. Academic Article uri icon


  • Although the frequency of occurrence of plastic ingestion in the large-sized dolphinfish and tunas taken by the Hawai'i longline fishery is very low (frequency of occurrence < 5% of sampled individuals), the ingestion of plastic in smaller-sized specimens caught with pole-and-line gear by commercial and recreational fishers has not been investigated.This study examined ingestion of >0.25 mm marine plastic debris (MPD) by four predatory fish species caught by commercial fishers around the Main Hawaiian Islands, and documented ingestion in three species: 85.7% of albacore tuna (n = 7), 40.0% of skipjack tuna (n = 10) and 12.5% of dolphinfish (n = 8).Yellowfin tuna (n = 10) did not contain any MPD, probably owing to the high proportion of empty stomachs (60%).For skipjack tuna, the frequency of occurrence of MPD ingestion was significantly higher for the smaller-sized specimens caught with pole-and-line (40%), compared with the larger-sized specimens caught with longlines (0%).For dolphinfish, the frequency of occurrence of MPD ingestion was similar for the similar-sized specimens caught with pole-and-line and with longlines.The ingested MPD items were micro-meso plastics, between 1 and 25 mm. While most ingested items were fragments, albacore also ingested line and skipjack also ingested sheets.The predatory fishes ingested light MPD items that float in sea water, but there were species-specific differences in their polymer composition: albacore contained more polypropylene and polyethylene, and skipjack contained more elastomers, characterized by a high percentage of ester plasticizers.Altogether, these results suggest that albacore and skipjack tunas ingest plastic of different types and polymers. Yet more research is needed to understand how differences in vertical distribution, foraging ecology and diet influence the MPD sampled by these predatory fish species.

publication date

  • February 2021