Genetics Professor advises US government on fishing industry
Tuesday 21 July 2015
A SALFORD University scientist is informing the US Presidential Task Force on its campaign against fraud and illegal practices in the fishing industry.
Professor Stefano Mariani, Chair in Conservation Genetics in the School of Environment & Life Sciences, has established a reputation as a pioneer in the field of DNA barcoding to assess and monitor marine biodiversity and seafood markets.
He has already visited Washington DC to advise several US state departments as an official Advisor of the Pew Marine Conservation Fellow Program. His expertise fed into the ongoing work by President Obama's special Task Force on Combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Seafood Fraud, established in 2014 to tackle a growing international problem that harms consumers and our oceans.
Commenting on the prestigious appointment, Professor Mariani, said: “I was honoured to be invited to Washington to share my perspectives with members of the Presidential Task Force on this important work. Any international recognition of our research work is welcome, but to be able to engage directly with the headquarters of the United States government is a tremendous acknowledgement of the growing reputation of our work at Salford.”
Seafood fraud isn’t just a labelling problem – it directly endangers human health, as consumers may unknowingly eat a fish species contaminated with toxins or allergens. Fraud also distorts the sustainability of the market by disguising the real impact of overfishing.
Professor Mariani said: “Recent developments in molecular biology and DNA sequencing can empower conservation biologists, managers and policy-makers with an astounding range of tools applicable to biodiversity monitoring, wildlife forensics, all the way to law enforcement.
“It is only through an open dialogue between researchers and wider society that we can harness, all this potential. As scientists, we find it hugely rewarding to assist governments and civil society in the quest for a more sustainable future.”
Professor Mariani’s involvement is part-funded by Santander and the Research Strategy budget.
¿ Salford University research in this field includes a project to assess and monitor shark biodiversity in Caribbean marine ecosystems, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts Ocean Science Programme.