Status Updates on Plastics Pollution in Aquatic Environment of Tanzania: Data Availability, Current Challenges and Future Research Needs

Dativa Shilla


Plastics are the most useful materials invented by man, and have brought great convenience to our daily lives but not without problems. Inappropriate disposal of wasted plastics has caused serious environmental problems. Over the past decade, microplastic debris in both marine and freshwater systems have become an emerging issue. A literature review was conducted to summarize the current state of knowledge of plastic pollution in Tanzanian aquatic systems. Although, Tanzania has vast coastlines and world’s largest freshwater lakes, the extent of microplastics presence in the aquatic environment remains largely unreported. Data from volunteer beach cleanups in Dar es Salaam areas show that typically more than 70% of anthropogenic litter along the beaches is comprised of plastics. In the only study to date to describe microplastic pollution in the African Great Lakes, a variety of polymers, including polyethylene, polypropylene and silicone rubber, were identified from the gastrointestinal tracts of Nile perch and Nile tilapia fished from Mwanza Gulf, Lake Victoria, in Tanzania. Due to human pressures, increased urbanization, coupled with general inadequate awareness, the potential for microplastic pollution is high. Mitigation of the effects of this pollution requires efforts from various interested stakeholders, including the local communities.

Keywords Plastics, pollution, aquatic environment, Tanzania

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