Gene-associated markers provide tools for tackling illegal fishing and false eco-certification

FishPopTrace Consortium, Einar E. Nielsen*, Alessia Cariani, Eoin Mac Aoidh, Gregory E. Maes, Ilaria Milano, Rob Ogden, Martin Taylor, Jakob Hemmer-Hansen, Massimiliano Babbucci, Luca Bargelloni, Dorte Bekkevold, Eveline Diopere, Leonie Grenfell, Sarah Helyar, Morten T. Limborg, Jann T. Martinsohn, Ross McEwing, Frank Panitz, Tomaso PatarnelloFausto Tinti, Jeroen K. J. Van Houdt, Filip A. M. Volckaert, Robin S. Waples, Gary R. Carvalho, Jan E. J. Albin, Juan M. Vieites Baptista, Vladimir Barmintsev, Jose M. Bautista, Christian Bendixen, Jean-Pascal Berge, Dietmar Blohm, Barbara Cardazzo, Amalia Diez, Montserrat Espinera, Audrey J. Geffen, Elena Gonzalez, Nerea Gonzalez-Lavin, Ilaria Guarniero, Marc Jerome, Marc Kochzius, Grigorius Krey, Olivier Mouchel, Enrico Negrisolo, Corrado Piccinetti, Antonio Puyet, Sergey Rastorguev, Jane P. Smith, Massimo Trentini, Veronique Verrez-Bagnis, Alexander Volkov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing has had a major role in the overexploitation of global fish populations. In response, international regulations have been imposed and many fisheries have been 'eco-certified' by consumer organizations, but methods for independent control of catch certificates and eco-labels are urgently needed. Here we show that, by using gene-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms, individual marine fish can be assigned back to population of origin with unprecedented high levels of precision. By applying high differentiation single nucleotide polymorphism assays, in four commercial marine fish, on a pan-European scale, we find 93-100% of individuals could be correctly assigned to origin in policy-driven case studies. We show how case-targeted single nucleotide polymorphism assays can be created and forensically validated, using a centrally maintained and publicly available database. Our results demonstrate how application of gene-associated markers will likely revolutionize origin assignment and become highly valuable tools for fighting illegal fishing and mislabelling worldwide.

Original languageEnglish
Article number851
Number of pages6
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


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