Environmental group Greenpeace is calling on the government to quickly restrict the use of disposable plastics, after new research illustrated just how prevalent microplastics are in the food chain.
Education University researchers examined 30 wild Flathead Grey Mullets – a dish commonly served in Chinese cuisine.
Sixty percent of the fish contained small plastic fragments or fibres less than 5 millimetres long. One fish was found to have ingested 80 pieces of plastic.
The researchers said the polymers pulled out of the fish's digestive systems are mainly used to produce single-use items, like plastic cutlery, straws, lunch boxes, cups and bottles.
Greenpeace campaigner Chan Hall-sion said this shows just how widespread the problem of microplastic pollution is in Hong Kong.
"Even in oysters and mussels and lobsters, they all contain microplastic. This is not only about, 'Oh, I won't eat that kind of fish or another kind of shell[fish]', it's about the general single-use plastic problem. Because once we keep using the single-use plastic product, it has its way to go into the ocean and turns into microplastic," Chan said.
"So the more we use single-use plastic, the more the fish will eat, and then the more the people will eat the plastic we produce by ourselves.”
Chan says earlier research had shown that the city is a hotspot for plastic pollution. Hong Kong's beaches have previously recorded an average of 5,000 pieces of microplastic per square metre – 1.5 times higher than South Korea, and 2.4 times higher than the US.
She said given the scale of the problem, the SAR government should come up with a comprehensive plan and timeline to deal with it as soon as possible.
Chan added that companies should also be encouraged to cut down on plastic use.