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Tackling fish fraud

June 21, 2011

The Column

The Column, The Column-06-17-2011, Volume 7, Issue 11

Fraud in the fisheries sector can range from low-cost catfish sold as expensive sole to cod caught in the North Sea but declared as originating from the Baltic.

Fraud in the fisheries sector can range from low-cost catfish sold as expensive sole to cod caught in the North Sea but declared as originating from the Baltic. A report from the European Commission has highlighted some of the ways that molecular technologies based on genetics, genomics, chemistry and forensics can be used by investigators to help in the fight against illegal practices and support traceability.

The report is by the commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and is titled “Deterring illegal activities in the fisheries sector”. Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science and the commissioner with lead responsibility for the JRC said, “This crucial report by the Commission’s in-house scientists at the JRC shows how the wider and more coordinated use of innovative molecular technologies can help foil fisheries fraud and make sure consumers get what they pay for and know what they are eating.”

The report advocates an EU-wide approach to make new molecular technologies available to European control and enforcement authorities. Among the proposals in the report, it is suggested that analytical laboratories in the Member States are given access to common repositories of reference data and other relevant knowledge for analysis. It also proposes a network of certified test laboratories that can perform analysis for control and enforcement purposes and to share harmonized and validated analytical protocols.

This story originally appeared in The Column. Click here to view that issue.