Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) boats and the impact on coastal environment – Evidence of fibreglass ingestion by marine bivalves from natural populations

Corina Ciocan*, Claude Annels, Megan Fitzpatrick, Fay Couceiro, Isle Steyl, Simon Bray

*Corresponding author for this work

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Classified as marine debris, man made materials are polluting the world’s oceans. Recently, glass reinforced plastic (GRP) has been shown to degrade and contaminate the coasts. In this pioneering study, fibreglass particles have been detected in the soft parts of oysters and mussels collected from natural populations, in front of an active boatyard. The presence of particulate glass, with concentrations up to 11,220 particles/kg ww in Ostrea edulis and 2740 particles/kg ww in Mytilus edulis, was confirmed by micro Raman spectroscopy. The results showed higher accumulation during the winter months, when boat maintenance activities are peaking and, through repair work, the release of glass fibres in the environment is more likely. Bivalves are considered high risk species due to their sessile nature and extensive filter feeding behaviour. The microparticle inclusion may contribute to adverse impacts on physiological processes and eventually to a decline in the overall health and subsequent death of the animal. The high costs involved in the proper GRP disposal and the lack of recycling facilities worldwide lead to boat abandonement and further contamination of the coasts. For the first time this study presents the extensive fibreglass contamination of natural bivalve populations, in a popular South England sailing harbour, designated a biological and geological site of specific scientific interest (SSRI).
Original languageEnglish
Article number134619
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Early online date15 May 2024
Publication statusEarly online - 15 May 2024


  • glass reinforced plastic
  • fibreglass
  • bivalves
  • digestive gland

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