Anthropogenic pollution is considered one of the main threats to the marine environment, and there is an imperious need to assess its potential impact on ecologically and economically relevant species. This study characterises plastic ingestion and tissue levels of potentially toxic metallic elements in Nephrops norvegicus and their simultaneous levels in abiotic compartments from three locations of the Catalan coast (NW Mediterranean Sea). A multidisciplinary assessment of the health condition of N. norvegicus through condition indices, enzymatic biomarkers and histological techniques is provided, and its relationship with anthropogenic pollutant levels explored. Plastic fibres were commonly found in stomachs of N. norvegicus (85% of the individuals), with higher abundances (13 ± 21 fibres · ind−1) in specimens captured close to Barcelona. The presence of long synthetic fibres in near-bottom waters, as well as the mirroring trends in abundance among locations for water and ingested plastics, suggest that uptake from water may be occurring potentially through suspension feeding. The spatial variability in the levels of metallic elements in N. norvegicus was poorly correlated to the variability in sediments. In any case, present levels in abdominal muscle are considered safe for human consumption. Levels of ingested plastics only showed significant, yet weak, correlations with glutathione S-transferase and catalase activities. However, no other health parameter analysed showed any trend potentially associated to anthropogenic pollutant levels. Neither the condition indices nor the histopathological assessment evidenced any signs of pathologic conditions affecting N. norvegicus. Thus, it was concluded that presently there is no evidence of a negative impact of the studied pollutants on the health condition of N. norvegicus in the studied grounds.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120230
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022


  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Catalase
  • Environmental Monitoring/methods
  • Environmental Pollutants/analysis
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • Health
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Metals
  • Nephropidae
  • Nephrops norvegicus
  • Plastics
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical/analysis
  • Water/analysis


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