Molecular methods make it possible to verify where fish - such as these haddock - were caught.© Erik Lindebo, 2007
Molecular technologies to help tackle fishing fraud
A new JRC report shows how molecular technologies can help in the fight against illegal practices and support traceability- including of processed products such as canned fish – 'from ocean to fork'.
Labelling fish and fish products with a false species name or declaring false geographic origins are two common fraudulent techniques in the fisheries sector. The report "Deterring illegal activities in the fisheries sector" describes how molecular methods, such as those based on DNA-technology, make it possible to identify species even in processed products, without the need for expert knowledge. The JRC report advocates a coherent and practical EU-wide approach towards making new molecular technologies available to European control and enforcement authorities. It aims to promote an informed dialogue among the various stakeholders and proposes the following concrete measures:
- stepping up dissemination of relevant information and advice to all stakeholders;
- giving analytical laboratories in the Member States access to common repositories of reference data and other relevant knowledge for the analysis of fish and fish products. These repositories could be similar to the "fishtrace" database, hosted by the JRC;
- a network of certified test laboratories to carry out analysis for control and enforcement purposes and to share harmonised and validated analytical protocols;
- ensuring full training of inspectors and laboratory staff for proper sample handling and analysis.
The JRC is currently assessing costs and benefits based on data from more than 100 reported cases to facilitate the practical implementation of the technologies concerned. The costs of many of these technologies, in particular for DNA analysis, have been falling sharply.
The report was presented by Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, on 27 May at the Slowfish event in Genoa, Italy.
- Press release: What fish is on your plate? Commission scientists publish report on how new technologies can tackle fishing fraud
- EU Fisheries website: Illegal fishing (IUU)
- JRC Report: Deterring Illegal Activities in the Fisheries Sector - Genetics, Genomics, Chemistry and Forensics to Fight IUU Fishing and in Support of Fish Product Traceability