A Smithsonian researcher is using DNA sequencing to determine whether spiny lobster and queen conch are caught legally, Smithsonian Insider writes.
Postdoc Nathan Truelove has been collecting genetic samples from lobster and queen conch living in different parts of the Caribbean Sea. With the sequencing data in hand, he's then going to look for signals of local adaptation that can be used as markers that indicate from where the samples originated.
Being able to determine the origin of lobster and conch, Truelove tells the Smithsonian Insider, is a key part of species management and the prevention of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.
"The goal is to gather enough information to be able to trace a conch or a lobster back to a specific country, or even an area within a country's waters," he adds. "This can help enforcement agencies better understand IUU fishing and help local fishers more effectively manage their fisheries. It can also be useful in the design of marine protected areas, since we may be able to pinpoint whether seafood comes from an area where fishing is closed or open at any given time."