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Fish Barcoding Could Help Conservation

Audio

Aired 4/20/09

Local scientists are using the genetic equilvalent of barcodes to track California fish species. KPBS Environment Reporter Ed Joyce has more on the UC San Diego project.

A recent survey of restaurants in New York found that nearly 25 percent of the fish were mislabeled.

Whether bait and switch or by accident, even biology experts often have difficulty identifying species on sight.

Scripps marine biologists Ron Burton and Phil Hastings are using a new technology that combines DNA identification with barcoding...in this case biological barcodes that match animal DNA to specific species.

Burton says the system allows scientists to track where different fish are producing their young.

"That allows us to identify important breeding areas, nursery areas," Burton says. "So that we can protect those areas and conserve the species and retain the high productivity of our local waters."

He says the barcoding could provide new information about the health of fish populations.

The system could also lead to fish one day being sold with a sticker bearing a barcode that positively identifies it.  

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

 

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