Knowledge for Development

Fisheries forensics to tackle seafood fraud


Date: 11/07/2012


Media attention to mislabelled seafood is helping bring the scale of illegal and unregulated fishing to consumers' attention. Bangor University and University of Salford scientists explain how genetic tools can promote sustainability and make sure the fish we buy is what it says on the label. The author also look at so-called IUU fishing (illegal, unreported and unregulated), which is not included in stock assessment and examine the consequence of unidentifiable marketed fish (that leads to fraud or mislabelling). The illegal substitution of one species for another is best tackled by a method known as 'COI barcoding', a process that works by analysing the 600 base-pair sequence of the mitochondrial DNA cytochrome c oxidase I gene. DNA results from fish samples can be matched against the Barcode of Life Data system ( which currently contains the DNA sequences of nearly a third of known fish species. The method is cost-effective and reliable. Virtually any product advertised or sold as a particular species, anywhere in the world, can be verified unequivocally using a COI barcoding test. (NERC Planet Earth Online, 1/6/2012)

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