In order to be an environmentally-responsible seafood consumer, it's important to ensure that the fish you buy comes from a sustainable source. Apart from the easy-to-fake label on the packaging, though, how can you really know where it's from? Well, thanks to research being carried out at the University of Southampton, you may soon be able to check its chemical signature.
Led by Dr. Clive Trueman and PhD student Katie St. John Glew, the Southampton team started out by analyzing jellyfish gathered from known locations across the North Sea.
It was found that the animals had chemical compositions that were unique to the places in which they were captured. Based on this finding, the scientists created a map of the North Sea, indicating which of these compositions represented which geographical areas.
Next, the team identified many of these same chemical signatures in herring and scallops that were also collected in the North Sea. By locating those signatures on the map, they were able to accurately determine where the fish had been caught.
"Understanding the origin of fish or fish products is increasingly important as we try to manage our marine resources more effectively," says Trueman. "Fish from sustainable fisheries can fetch a premium price, but concerned consumers need to be confident that fish really were caught from sustainable sources."
Of course, it's also important to know that the fish you're buying is really the species that it's claimed to be. With that in mind, scientists at the University of South Florida recently developed the RNA-analyzing GrouperCheck sensor.