Which fish are the world’s most polluted?
Bloomberg article Bloomberg / REUTERS In April, a US federal judge struck down a California law requiring manufacturers to remove mercury and other toxins from their products.
In March, the EPA said it would issue regulations to limit mercury exposure from fishing.
The new study of the mercury levels in the oceans shows fish that live in the most polluted waters are the most likely to be harmed by pollution.
“The fish that are most vulnerable to mercury exposure are fish that do not use any fish habitat,” said John J. Kessel, a research scientist with the Center for Environmental Health at the University of California, San Diego.
“And that makes sense.”
The study was published online on Wednesday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
It used data from the World Health Organization’s Global Biodiversity Information System (GBIIS), a database of global fish stocks, which was created to assess the impact of pollution on fish populations.
“This is a really important study because it provides information about the fish populations that are being harmed,” said Kessel.
The study also revealed that the mercury concentration in the fish caught in waters with high levels of pollution is about 3,000 times higher than the average in the global ocean.
“We found that fish populations in those areas have been hit hard by this pollution,” said James W. Stolz, a lead author of the study and a professor of oceanography at the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
Fish stocks are critical for the health of humans, but fish populations are also important to the marine environment, as they provide the nutrients necessary for healthy fish and shellfish populations.
The more fish there are, the better the fish health.
The researchers said the fish are being hurt because the pollution is affecting them in ways that are irreversible.
The fish in the study were caught in the Gulf of Mexico, where pollution has increased since the early 1980s, and then moved to the Pacific, where it is less polluted.
“In the past decade, pollution has decreased by more than half in the Pacific from what it was in the mid-1980s, but we are now in the second half of the century,” said Stolzo.
The team’s findings have implications for ocean health and fish habitat, said Stovall, who also directs the Environmental Institute, an organization that works to protect ocean ecosystems.
“It’s the most important fish-related study we’ve done,” he said.