Issues for conservation
When illegal fishing makes such a huge profit it is difficult to implement conservation measures. Illegal fishing practices occur in spite of restrictions or bans on areas or endangered fish species. Unfortunately, it’s hard to monitor fishing practices at sea; it’s almost impossible to know about violations and enforce rules.
Moving towards traceability
One way to improve this problematic situation is to introduce a traceability system that tracks the fish throughout its journey from fishing boat to factory to store. Norpac, the fish export company, has developed its own tracking system that traces the fish to the end buyer. There are some other small-scale versions of traceability, but nothing is widely implemented yet. However, more and more consumers are demanding to know where their seafood is from and some large grocery retailers have started to switch to traceable seafood. The real change needs to come at a governmental level. The U.S.A. and EU have made some changes to improve traceability, but so far there are no plans for a comprehensive tracking system.
Another option is to have more rigorous inspections of imported seafood (right now inspections are minimal in most countries). Using DNA barcoding or qPCR probes you can identify the species by its DNA from a small piece of tissue. There are a few portable devices, such as GrouperCheck, that let you check if a piece of fish is a grouper. Theoretically, you could bring the device to a restaurant and check if the fish that you received is actually a grouper. Your dinner might get cold, though, it takes 40 minutes for the sample to be processed. There is a kit for red snapper that claims to test the sample in 20 minutes.
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