IUU Fishing and Traceability
Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing threatens the sustainability of fish stocks and the economic integrity of the commercial fishing industry. The Fisheries Genetics group of the FISHREG action investigates the use of molecular technologies for monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) measures in the fight against IUU fishing , focusing in particular on catch identification, fraud throughout the fish product supply chain, and traceability (“From Ocean to Fork”). Common aspects of fraud in the industry include mislabelling of fish species and false declaration of origin. DNA-based techniques which can accurately identify the species and geographical origin of a fish, can also be extended to the growing aquaculture industry by identifying whether a fish is wild or farmed. These technologies can be used to support the enforcement and development of legislation countering illegal activity in the fisheries sector.
The JRC has recently published the reference report “Deterring Illegal Activities in the Fisheries Sector: Genetics, Genomics, Chemistry and Forensics to Fight IUU Fishing and in Support of Fish Product Traceability”. This report informs stakeholders and facilitates the transfer of molecular technologies into applications for fisheries control and enforcement authorities, and traceability schemes for the industry.
The report describes available molecular techniques and technologies and discusses how these can be used for traceability and in support of fisheries control and enforcement. The report provides examples of cases where molecular techniques were employed to reveal fisheries fraud and to generate evidence in court cases. These examples clearly demonstrate the feasibility and operational potential of the techniques in real-world contexts. Furthermore, the report explores possibilities for translating forensic genetics and chemistry into a European fisheries control and enforcement framework, within the context of the current EU policies and legislation.
The three principal questions of a traceability framework for fish and fish products: a) What species is it? b) Where was it caught? c) Is it of wild or farmed origin?