Most fish found in Kuwait waters polluted with plastic

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KUWAIT CITY, July 22: The British expert and the environmental attaché at the British Embassy in Kuwait Rachel Mulholland speaking on the Middle East affairs, warned of the danger of increasing plastic waste in Kuwait Bay and its impact on the marine environment and on the lives of consumers, reports Al-Qabas daily. She said the fish of the Kuwait Sea are polluted with a large percentage of plastic, according to the latest environmental research study and working paper conducted by the British Center for Environmental Sciences, Fisheries and Aquaculture (CEFAS), in cooperation with the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research. She went on to say that the sample that was taken from 8 types of the main fish consumed most in Kuwait, such as grouper, zubaidi, naqrour, shim, mead, shrimp, crabs, along with other marine organisms, showed the presence of microplastic particles in the content of the digestive tract that are mainly consumed in Kuwait, warning of their dangers to marine life and their negative impact on humans as well.

Plastic bottles thrown all over the place on one of the beaches in Kuwait.

The plastic waste, she added, takes a long time to decompose, which is a global problem, as plastic bottles take more than 450 years to decompose, which greatly threatens the marine environment. She explained that a lot of plastic waste, which comes from human waste on beaches or boats, ends up in the middle of the seas and oceans, affecting whales, birds and turtles, and harming the fish that feed on them and leading to their death, because of the toxic substances they carry.

It was based on a study stating that one fish in the waters of the Gulf contains 20 plastic particles, and this matter increases greatly in the seas and oceans as well, noting that 75% of the dead turtles in the waters of the Arabian Gulf fed on plastic, which affects all Gulf waters in the region. Mulholland indicated her cooperation with many Kuwaiti authorities interested in the environment, including the Environment Public Authority and the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, in addition to working with the Regional Organization for the Protection of the Marine Environment in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, which is based in Kuwait.

She added, “We are currently working on knowing the sources of plastic particles and monitoring their expansion and finding appropriate strategies to reduce plastic waste, and protect the marine environment from human threats and encroachments.” She reviewed the challenges facing the Gulf marine environment, especially Kuwait, hinting that the challenges are similar in all parts of the world, but the Kuwaiti waters are the hottest and warmest, as the sea water temperature rises twice the global average, which affects the marine environment greatly, in addition to oil spills, sewage, industrial effluents and wrong human practices as a result of dumping waste on the beaches. She revealed that the international treaty to combat environmental pollution resulting from plastic waste, which threatens global biodiversity, is scheduled to be signed before the end of this year, specifically in December 2023. She stated that the United Nations Environment Program is working with member states from all over the world (including Kuwait), to develop an international legally binding instrument on reducing plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, by 2024.

She added: “Negotiations are underway to agree on this legally binding treaty, as the first negotiating meeting was held in November 2022, and the second meeting was held in June 2023, and the third negotiating meeting is scheduled to be held in December of this year, and after approval of the international treaty, sanctions will be imposed by each of the member states on individuals or violating entities.” The expert indicated that the British Center for Environmental Sciences, Fisheries and Aquaculture cooperates with many environmental bodies in the region, pointing to the tendency to include an environmental curriculum in the education curricula in primary and secondary schools in the Gulf countries, to educate students about the environment and climate change.

Mulholland mentioned that plastic is everywhere around us, but it harms fish, turtles and whales, and leads to their death on the beaches, as well as affecting birds, and when dissecting them, we discover that their intestines contain a large amount of plastic. She added, “All of this does not mean that we should avoid eating fish, as seafood is a major component of the daily protein intake of the local population and residents of the Arab Gulf community, with an estimated average consumption rate of 109 grams per day per person.”

Following are the highlights of the environmental study – plastic waste is one of the most dangerous marine pollutants, the temperature of the Kuwait Sea is twice the global average, the Kuwait Sea suffers from oil spills and sewage, harmful human activities negatively affect public health and plastic waste may affect the suitability of the sea for swimming There are very few available studies that focus on West Asia and the Arabian Gulf, yet it is noted that this region is one of the highest producing regions of petrochemicals and plastic solid waste (PSW) in the world. Good environmental steps include environment Public Authority initiatives to monitor beaches, monitoring environmental violations and awareness campaigns, recycling and rehabilitation of coastal areas and planting mangroves and restoring salt marshes Recommendations to preserve the safety of the environment include collecting data on the sources of problems and monitoring them to address them and raising awareness and educating the community about the importance of protecting the environment.

This is in addition to recycling plastic waste and combating its danger and not throwing waste to protect fish and marine wealth and stimulate tourism The British expert said, the environmental study was conducted on eight species of fish in Kuwait, which are of commercial importance to Kuwaitis and other Gulf countries, with the removal and dissection of the digestive system. The study is the first major research activity, and the first of its kind, to provide evidence of the presence of microplastics in commercial domestic fish in Kuwait.

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