The Food and Agriculture Organization recently held a workshop in Rome to discuss best forensic practices to combat the illegal fishing trade that threatens to decimate the livelihood and primary protein source of millions around the world. 

Presumably to maintain the advantage of secrecy, we’re given just a taste of their techniques.  DNA analysis is being used to discern whether that mystery white meat being hawked is actually haddock or rather an endangered species. And, “chemical tests” on the ear bones of fish are cluing in investigators as to whether you snagged that catch out of bounds. 

Sadly the bad guys are getting in on the act too.  A crew convicted of illegally trading abalone copped to using evasive techniques they learned by watching CSI: Miami. Now that’s embarrassing.  Miami!…the one with David Caruso.

The UN is fighting a steep battle on this front. Over a third of the world’s fisheries now sit at 10 percent of their peak (FAO’s latest World Fisheries Report) and are at even further risk due to climate change.  What’s next? The Rome meeting also spawned a reference network that can be tapped for new forensic techniques by investigators worldwide. Poachers beware.

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