A European-funded project, Labelfish – the ‘Atlantic Network on Genetic Control of Fish and Seafood Labelling and Traceability’, has been testing shop and restaurant-bought fish around Ireland and Europe’s Atlantic coast using DNA technology to identify whether the species printed on the label or menu is always what is being sold. As project partners, researchers at Indigo Rock Marine Research Station in Bantry are working to help set up a network of parties interested in the development and use of a common standardised, analytical technique to control genetic traceability and labelling of fish.
Mislabelling of fish has a range of potential consequences, from health risks to economic losses. In particular it may contribute to the landing and sale of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fish from jurisdictions with less-stringent controls than those in place in Europe. One of the motivators for mislabelling fish is the financial gain from substituting a similar, yet cheaper, species for a more expensive one. This can sometimes occur with fish species where one fillet looks almost identical to another – especially if further processed or battered. It’s hoped that the introduction of a harmonised genetic screening regime across Europe will mean less mislabelling, and better protection of consumer rights and European jobs.
The Labelfish project is made up of partners from Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Germany, UK and France. The cost of the project is just under €2 million, €1.2 million of which is funded under the thematic Priority 1 of the Atlantic Area Programme: to promote transnational entrepreneurial and innovation networks. To find out more about Labelfish visit www.labelfish.eu.