Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is considered to be a major barrier to global long-term sustainability for marine fisheries. While it is difficult to estimate the full extent of the problem, a 2009 abstract estimated the value of IUU fishing to be between $10 and $23.5 billion annually.
Similarly, a recent study by See Around Us estimated that 30 percent (or around 32 million metric tons per year) of the global catch is unreported in official statistics.
Dr. Clive Trueman and PhD student Katie St. John Glew of the University of Southampton have completed research that shows how jellyfish can help combat the problem of seafood fraud.
According to the study, published in journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution, all animals build their bodies from carbon and nitrogen, which they get from food. Carbon and nitrogen has two chemical forms (isotopes), and the relative amount of these isotopes varies across the seas and oceans.
“We show that we can map these natural variations in the chemical forms of carbon and nitrogen by measuring jellyfish,” says Dr. Trueman. “The jellyfish eat small plankton and lock in the chemical signals. We can then measure the same signals in a fish, shellfish, or fish product and compare this to our maps. We can then either test if the chemistry of the fish is consistent with the chemistry of the place where it is reported to have from.”
Alternatively, if there is no prior information, the team can estimate the most likely location that the fish or shellfish came from.
About Keith Loria
A graduate of the University of Miami, Keith Loria is an award-winning journalist who has been writing for major newspapers and magazines for close to 20 years, on topics as diverse as food, sports, business, theater, and government. He started his career with the Associated Press and has held high editorial positions at Rinkside, BCA Insider, and Soap Opera Digest. Reach him at email@example.com.