EU Science Hub

Enhancing fish species identification using novel markers and emerging technologies

Establishing an efficient traceability framework for fish products is crucial for consumer protection and fisheries management and conservation. This is well reflected in the EU legislation. The EU general food law emphasizes strongly that European citizens must have access to safe and wholesome food of the highest standard. Consumer protection is supported by a stringent traceability concept as stipulated in Regulation (EC) 178/2002. This notion is also expressed in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) basic regulation (EU) 1380/2013, according to which fishing and aquaculture must be environmentally, economically and socially sustainable while providing a source of healthy food for all EU citizens. Under the CFP the need for traceability is not exclusively raised in the context of consumer protection, but also as a necessary component for fisheries control and enforcement in Regulation (EU) 1224/2009 and in the context of the EU’s ambitious strategy to fight Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing under the remit of Regulation (EC) 1005/2008. Recent scientific advances, particularly in the fields of genetics and genomics, have led to the development of novel and improved technologies, and efforts are under way to harness their potential for the species identification of unknown fish samples or products. This report reviews these efforts, describing the technologies and the early results obtained for fish product traceability. Each of these technologies have the potential to fill some specific existing gaps, although they come with their own individual set of disadvantages. Understanding those and monitoring progress is thus crucial for their proper integration in existing traceability frameworks.