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Sustainable Fisheries

RTD objectives

FishPopTrace recognises the central role that fish population diversity plays in sustainable utilisation and conservation of exploited stocks, and aims to develop robust traceability systems that incorporate major spatial and temporal differentiation in four commercially exploited fishes from European waters. The consortium also acknowledges that any method or technology emanating from FishPopTrace must be adapted to end-user needs, that is, it must be evaluated against a combination of applicability and economic criteria. The target species are chosen to serve as illustrative models that encompass species exhibiting different geographic distributions, life-style (e.g. pelagic vs. benthic) and population structuring, with each species requiring priority actions in enforcement and/or conservation. The consortium brings together recent and current expertise in fish traceability projects (Fish and Chips - GOCE-CT-2003-505491; FishTrace - QLRI-CT-2002-02755; FISHBOL; Consortium for the Barcode of Life) to address several inter-related objectives:

  1. To integrate recent and on-going data from European fish species traceability projects, and to generate a single compatible database and tissue archive managed by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (Partner 8). The outputs will comprise a new database and associated web links with access to recently generated data on fish species and population identity, together with an archive of associated tissue samples from external and consortium outputs.
  2. To examine single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and otolith microchemistry and morphometrics in widely distributed populations of cod, hake, sole and herring, as tools for discriminating biologically differentiated populations and as a basis for traceability. Outputs will comprise population-level signatures associated with fish origins in early life and representative spawning groups.
  3. To undertake validation of traceability tools in relation to end-user technology. Outputs will produce Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to allow transfer of technologies to other laboratories throughout EU member states.
  4. To develop a population monitoring system based on otolith and genetic data that will assess population stability in a temporal and spatial framework. For each species, alternative parameters will be identified as indicators of population stability, and parameters will be validated using a combination of archived data and tissue samples.
  5. To test the utility of additional novel traceability systems (fatty acid profiles, proteomics, gene expression, microarray platform for SNP genotyping). Outputs will comprise an assessment of the utility of additional novel approaches to traceability and population monitoring through estimating the within and among-population components of biological differentiation and population signatures.
  6. To facilitate technology transfer in relation to enforcement and conservation policies of the CFP and associated socio-economic consequences. Central elements of the output will be the development and evaluation of end-user tools, a Cost Benefit Analysis and a final policy document setting FishPopTrace in the context of the CFP.


General aims

Outputs from FishPopTrace will improve the traceability of fish and fish products through enhanced understanding of the dynamics, temporal stability and distribution of major populations of four key exploited fish species. Data from SNPs and otolith microchemistry and morphometric data will provide a forensic framework for traceability of fish and fish products within the context of enforcement and conservation policy. This in turn will facilitate implementation of effort limitation and regional allocation of quotas based on the relative abundance of respective stocks, not only in wild populations, but also through enforcement based on fish products. The framework provided by FishPopTrace will thereby enhance the CFP aim to promote sustainability through conservation of genetic resources, as well as in the protection of consumer interests. Incorporation of population biodiversity (“biocomplexity”) into management instruments and policies will further underpin an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries through increased potential for recovery of declining stocks and associated resilience in trophic interactions. As a consequence of the knowledge-based directives, a more general positive impact on marine ecosystems can be anticipated. Overexploitation of a single marine species may affect whole ecological networks, with unexpected and detrimental results to the environment. Conservation of fish stocks, therefore, has a positive effect not only on the economics and sustainability of the industry, but also on conservation of biodiversity.

FishPopTrace complements two recent EU-funded Strategic Targeted Research/Innovation Projects (FINE- Fisheries Induced Evolution; UNCOVER- Understanding the Mechanisms of Stock Recovery) that focus on the conservation and dynamics of population structuring in exploited fishes. Exchanges between these and FishPopTrace on such issues as potential for local adaptation and the genetic component of stock resilience can be expected. FishPopTrace will thereby contribute to efficient fishing activities within an economically viable and competitive fisheries industry, and hence contribute to the CFP aim of providing a fair standard of living for those who depend on fishing activities as well as taking into account the interests of consumers.