Cape Town's waste ends up in its fish
Noseweek|August 2019
Cape Town's waste ends up in its fish

Scientists find that fish caught by small scale commercial fishers in Kalk Bay are contaminated.

Steve Kretzmann

THE OCEAN AROUND CAPE TOWN IS so polluted that pharmaceutical and industrial chemical compounds are accumulating in the flesh of fish caught off the coast.

Scientists from the University of the Western Cape’s chemistry department have found that fish caught by small scale commercial fishers in Kalk Bay are contaminated with antibiotics, painkillers, antiretrovirals, disinfectants, and industrial chemicals.

Species tested include snoek, bonita, hottentot (Cape bream), and panga, obtained from random commercial catches in late 2017.

Senior Professor Leslie Petrik at the University of Western Cape’s chemistry department and Cecilia Ojemaye tested for 15 different chemical compounds in the fish fillets, gills, liver, and intestines. These include the analgesic/anti-inflammatories Diclofenac and Acetaminophen, the antiepileptic drug Carbamazepine, the antibiotic Sulfamethoxazole, the disinfectant Triclosan, as well as industrial chemicals found in pesticides, flame retardants and personal care products.

“Overall, diclofenac had the highest concentration out of all the pharmaceutical compounds,” notes the report, while the antibiotic Sulfamethoxazole was detected in at least one part of all the fish. The industrial chemicals, or perfluoroalkyl compounds all “showed a high risk, both acute and chronic, in the fillet parts of the fish which is the part humans consume”, state Petrik and Ojemaye.

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August 2019