Microplastics in Fish in Saskatchewan Watersheds

Microplastics in Fish of Saskatchewan Watersheds

The South Saskatchewan River Watershed Stewards (SSRWSI) are excited to announce that we have received funding under the Fish and Wildlife Development Fund (FWDF). Together with Dr. Markus Brinkmann, Assistant Professor School of Environment and Sustainability, we will be working on the project titled “Microplastics in Fish of Saskatchewan Watersheds”.

In 2020, we received funding from FWDF and the City of Saskatoon to determine the presence or absence of microplastics in the South Saskatchewan River. Preliminary results show, that microplastics are present and therefore the next logical step is to analyze fish for microplastics.

Microplastics are a possible threat to Saskatchewan’s fish species. Studies on marine fish have shown that microplastics may accumulate within organisms, resulting in physical harm, such as by internal abrasions and blockages. Especially early-life stages are at risk, as they are often found to mistake microplastics for food, thereby decreasing survival, fitness, and growth. In addition to the potential physical impacts of ingested microplastics, toxicity could also arise from leaching contaminants such as plastic additives, capable of causing carcinogenesis and endocrine disruption.

For this project, SSRWSI staff will collect samples in June 2022 and August 2022. Sampling sites will be Saskatchewan River Landing, Coteau Bay, Clarkboro Ferry, and Codette. We are specifically collecting gastrointestinal tracts of Yellow Perch, Northern Pike, and Walleye (depending on prevalent species at each sampling site) of anglers who harvested them under their existing fishing license. Stay tuned for more project updates in the upcoming weeks.