United Nations
Plastic litter and marine fish (PlasM)
by Thuenen Institute of Fisheries Ecology (Government)
The huge amount of man-made solid waste materials ending up in the oceans becoming marine litter was identified as one of the pressing global challenges. We investigate the amount of microplastics in marine fish and if this is a threat for the animal.

Background and Objective
Marine litter comprises a wide range of materials such as glass, metal, wood, rubber and plastics. Plastic waste was already identified as special problem, because it persists in the environment. In European regions about 70-80% of marine litter is plastic. It was estimated that about 4.8 million tons plastic litter enters the oceans each year and accumulates due to low degradation rates. Studies on marine litter are often based on an international agreed protocol ( e.g. ICES International Bottom Trawl Survey IBTS), for standardized recording of marine macro litter (> 2.5cm). Besides macro litter the small plastic particles - microplastic (< 5mm) - are of special interest. Microplastic is regarded as alarming from an ecologically point of view because it can be be taken up by marine organisms, might bioaccumulate in the food chain, or may cause harm to the animal or enhanced its contamination level. The aim of PlasM is an improved risc assessment of plastic in the marine environment - especially for fish and the consumer.
Sampling of marine fish
Sampling of marine litter
Extraction of micro plastic from fish
Determination of Polymers using FTIR
Determination of fish health status
Progress reports
Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries
Type of commitment
  • Scientific, socioeconomic and interdisciplinary research
Quantification of marine macro litter (plastics) at the seafloor
Analytical quantification method of microplastics in marine fish
Investigation of possible adverse effect of microplastics on fish
Financing (in USD)
398,000 USD
Staff / Technical expertise
Integration in ongoing marine monitoring activities of the Thünen Institute
In-kind contribution
Ship time on reserch vessels
In-kind contribution
Use of modern lab and aquaculture facilities
Basic information
Time-frame: 1 June 2017 - 31 May 2021
German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (Government)
Ocean Basins
  • North Atlantic
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficaries
Contact information
Ulrike Kammann, Dr., ulrike.kammann@thuenen.de, + 49 471 94460 325
Bremerhaven, Germany
Other SDGs
United Nations