"A major existing problem is that it has not previously been possible to prove the exact origin of any particular fish, and in some circumstances, particularly with processed or cooked fish, it can be quite difficult even to identify the species, let alone its source of origin.
"We set out to develop a method that could be used throughout the food supply chain and across the fish industry, and have shown its effectiveness in four common European species, Atlantic Cod, Atlantic Herring, Common Sole and European Hake: each threatened by overfishing and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The tools can be used to identify or compare a set of pre-identified genetic markers within fish samples at any point in the consumer chain from net to plate, and to trace the fish back to their region of origin or breeding group. Such DNA-based tools can be used in tandem with existing technologies such as conventional labels, but importantly provides an independent and robust method for ad hoc tests of authenticity".
"This tool is also highly flexible. We have already identified the markers to separate populations of fish at large geographic scales, but the new methodology is powerful enough to identify fish from much smaller spatial scales, such as North Sea and Baltic cod. Moreover the system can be further developed for any fish species as required.
Far from being a punitive measure, the ethos behind the use of such tools is to assist the fishing industry, providing greater assurance of the population of origin and conservation status of the catch. The tool has application in validating various eco-certification and eco-labelling systems currently in use, but which are typically un-validated. Those charged with ensuring conservation and sustainability of our fish stocks will have a far greater ability not only to identify populations at risk or thriving but also a forensically validated system that can be used t
|Contact: Elinor Elis-Williams|