Plastics in Newfoundland Fish: Newest findings, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-11-19 at 12.03.24 PMMap of where fish were sampled from.

CLEAR has an ongoing commitment to monitor plastic contaminants in fish caught for food in Newfoundland and Labrador. Since 2015, we have surveyed over 1,500 fish from 4 different species, often with help from fishermen and women on wharves during the food fishery, where we collect our samples. We are pleased to share our results, some of the lowest ingestion rates in the world!

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Plastic ingestion rates for Atlantic Cod studied in Europe

Atlantic cod: 1.68% of over 1,000 cod ingested plastic. That’s just over 1 in 150 fish. These include nearshore and offshore fish from the east and south shores of Newfoundland. In Europe, other ingestion rates range from 1.2% to 13%. There are only a hand full of studies on Atlantic cod plastic ingestion.

Capelin: 0% of 350 capelin ingested plastics. Capelin came from commercial fishermen on east and south shores of Newfoundland during the capelin roll in 2016. There are no other studies of plastic ingestion in capelin to compare our study to.

Atlantic Salmon: 0% of 69 wild-caught salmon had ingested plastics. These fish were from Campbellton River.There are no other studies of plastic ingestion in Atlantic Salmon to compare our study to. 

Silver hake: 0% of 134 silver hake had ingested plastics. While silver hake are not caught for food in Newfoundland, they are fished commercially on Scotian shelf south of Newfoundland and in New England in the United States.

Special thanks to citizen scientists who donated their fish guts to us, to the Marine Institute (MI) of Memorial University, to Women in Science and Engineering, and to DFO for helping with samples.

We will be continuing these studies this coming year, focusing on the west and north coasts of Newfoundland and the east coast of Labrador. If you’d like to contact us about working in your area, or if you have fish or other wild food guts you’d like to share with us, please contact Max Liboiron at