aquaculture, fish, fisheries, genomics, illegal, kit, seafood, stock, traceability, unreported, unregulated
Current mechanisms to trace Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing (paper tracing, IT tracking mechanisms or current genetic tools) don’t provide sufficient guarantees for traceability of species and their source of origin (http://fishpoptrace.jrc.ec.europa.eu/about/documents). The same is true for the tracing of aquacultured products. An efficient method to enforce the legal capture of fish involves the use of molecular tracers by government and industry. The development of an operational tool requires the adaptation of lab based methods, which were developed at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in the context of the European funded project FishPopTrace (http://fishpoptrace.jrc.ec.europa.eu) and EU tender AQUAGEN (http://aquagen.jrc.ec.europa.eu/about-aquagen). The translation of a molecular protocol from bench to field is the main reason for soliciting funds. It will contribute to a more sustainable exploitation of our natural resources.
IUU leads to fraud. As such it reduces prices and profits of seafood legally caught by honest fishermen, adhering to international regulation. Revenue losses have been estimated at up to $10.5-$23 billion. Illegal product substitution distorts trading of wild caught and aquacultured seafood. For example, 25% of the fish & chips offered in Dublin restaurants was wrongly labeled.
Our genomic kit will be able to detect not only the species of the product sample but also its exact source of origin. This will make it feasible to identify the characteristics of the individual stock. For example, although in a particular batch all fish might be bluefin tuna, some might have been caught illegally from the Mediterranean Sea while others legally from the equatorial Atlantic Ocean. At the moment the mixing of fish from different sources is common practice and remains largely undetected. Our kit will change this, similar to what has happened to the tracing of beef meat in Belgium. The main challenge is that such kit has to be developed for tens of commercial fishes.
The following end users will make use of a traceability kit for fish: Industry: quality assurance companies, fishing companies, aquaculture producers, traders, food processors Government: EU and national authorities involved in enforcement and control
Genomic database for one commercial species (sole) Prototype diagnostic kit for one commercial species (sole)
M1: Develop genomic database for two commercial species (sole and European sea bass) (year 1) M2: Develop prototype diagnostic kit (year 1) M3: Identify commercial partners (year 1) M4: Test diagnostic kit under field conditions (year 2) M5: Commercialise diagnostic kit (year 2) M6: strategic plan for kit development in additional commercial species (year 2)