We want your food fish guts!

Last year, Civic Laboratory gathered fish guts from the Petty Harbour and St. Phillip’s, Newfoundland, and found one of the world’s lowest ingestion rates for plastics; only 2.4% of the cod had eaten plastics. This year, we’re doing it again, and expanding our reach to new parts of the Avalon.

Below are the locations and dates where we will be collecting, as well as instructions for how you can save us guts from your fish– we’ll pick them up!


July 23 & 24th: Quidi Vidi
July 30: St. Phillip’s
July 31: Bell Island
August 6 & 7: Petty Harbour
August 13 & 14: Bauline East
August 20 & 21: Renews
August 27 & 28: Marystown
September TBD: Brigus South

How to Collect Fish Guts for Science

If you don’t run into us while we’re collecting, you can also save us your guts for pick up. What we need from you: A bag of guts (from the mouth to the anus) and a corresponding information sheet (per fish). 

You can use the form linked here, or simply use it as a guide to what your information sheet should look like. Please use a sealed, leak-proof plastic bag for your guts (like a ziplock or a plastic bag tied off at the end) and make sure that both the bag and the sheet are labelled to match each other.

Prior to filleting/gutting:

  • Record the location from which the fish was caught

Your local body of water. i.e. “Petty Harbour”, “Brigus South”

  • Provide the fish with a unique name or identifier.

i.e. “MobyDick1964”, “Bob007”, “PH123”

Write this in permanent ink on both the guts bag (prior to filling it or getting it wet) and the information sheet. This helps us keep the right information with the right guts and will also allow you to track the results once they become available and find out if your fish has ingested plastic.

Results will be posted at civiclaboratory.nl once the data has been processed (likely 2-5 months later). Contact Jessica Melvin if you want to check on your results (jmelvin@mun.ca)

  • Record the length of the fish;

Measure the length from the tip of the snout to the end of the spine, or the end of the body excluding the caudal fin – shown as “standard length” in the figure below. Measurements should be taken in cm or inches.


fish length

During the gutting process:

For our plastic ingestion analysis we require the entire digestive system (the stomach as well as its attached tubes/intestines) from mouth to anus – as shown in green in the figure below.

guts diagram

When removing the guts it may be useful to grasp the intestine as close to the anus as possible to ensure this portion of the intestine is not lost. If the intestines (or stomach) are cut or split apart, unfortunately we cannot use them. Once ruptured, the guts can be contaminated by plastics and fibres during transport and storage. These plastics and fibres are not ingested and would therefore give us bad results.

  • Freeze guts for pickup.

Refer pickup details and/or any further questions to the project leads:

Jessica Melvin:  jmelvin@mun.ca    709-986-5760
Dr. Max Liboiron: mliboiron@mun.ca