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Plastics in fishmeal production from marine sources- characterisation, methods and risk modelling


Project Description

Fishmeal makes an important contribution to global food security, providing an essential nutritional component in feed manufacture for aquaculture and livestock- fishmeal is produced using material produced by natural systems in the marine environment- either from whole fish caught for this purpose (and which are not used directly as food), from bycatch or from otherwise unwanted material from fish processing. Given the ubiquity of microplastics and plastic litter in the marine environment it would be expected that the sources used for fishmeal production would contain some amount of plastic contamination- some of which could be cycled within the fishmeal/aquaculture processing and feeding systems. The current level of risk to human health is unknown, but these plastics could carry with them amounts of potentially hazardous material such as plasticisers used in their original production, or pollutants adsorbed from the marine environment; and these could potentially enter the human food chain. This work this represents an important piece of ‘horizon scanning’ which could enable mitigation to be delivered before the problem becomes significant.

With support from IFFO (iffo.net - the UN-affiliated global; marine ingredients organisation), researchers at UoS have produced and piloted a preliminary method which can be used to recover, quantify and characterise the plastic material in fish meal. This method requires further development to address the range of different types of material, but can be refined as a globally applicable industry tool which can lead to better understanding of the extent of microplastic contamination and the associated risks.

Industry advice and access to contacts will be provided by IFFO.

This project aims to:
- further develop a method for extraction and characterisation of microplastics from fishmeal
-quantify and characterise plastic contamination in commercially produced fish meal
-characterise the plastics found to establish types and to attribute sources
-develop methods to establish concentrations of persistent organic pollutants associated with microplastics in fish meal
-establish the risks to the fishmeal industry by modelling future distributions in the marine environment to relate possible ‘hotspots’ to production areas
-provide advice on the extent of the risks and possible mitigation strategies for the industry

The ECaS research group focusses on climate change impacts and adaptation, sustainability science, and global environmental monitoring including innovative use of Earth observation data, including Earth system science. We have a world-leading reputation for research on climate change impacts and adaptation strategies, with lead authorships in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment report.

Candidates must have or expect to gain a first or strong upper second class degree, in an appropriate discipline related to this topic. Details on how to apply are available from Julie Drewitt, email . Informal enquiries may be made to Dr Malcolm Hudson (email ). For the latest information on postgraduate opportunities within Geography and Environment, please visit our website at http://www.southampton.ac.uk/geography/postgraduate/research_degrees/studentships.page?

Funding Notes

This is one of a range of topics currently being advertised. Funding will go to the project(s) with the best applicant(s). The studentship is to be funded at UKRI level, currently £14,777 per annum, with an RTSG of £750. The studentship will fully support British and EU nationals only. International students can apply but they must be able to meet the difference between home/EU and International tuition fees themselves.This topic may also attract Leverhulme/SMMI funding.

References

The PhD project will commence September 2019.

Related Subjects

How good is research at University of Southampton in Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology?
Geography

FTE Category A staff submitted: 32.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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