Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures

Applying Streamlined Genetic Identification of Shark Body Parts in U.S. Fisheries Enforcement and Monitoring Global-Scale Trade

Event Name/Location

Northwest Association of Forensic Scientists, Fall Meeting, Ashland, OR, October 2004

Presentation Date

Fall 10-2004

Document Type

Conference Proceeding




Large declines in commercially fished shark stocks in the face of burgeoning demand for shark products, especially fins, has resulted in international concerns about sustainability and an expanded list of limited and prohibited (from fishing) shark species in the territorial waters of several countries. Additionally, because individual shark species respond differently to exploitation, there is a strong need for management and conservation efforts on a species-specific basis. Monitoring shark catch and trade and assessing population impacts by species is essentially non-existent, however, due to substantial difficulties in identification of landed shark carcasses and detached fins. Although DNA-based forensics for marine wildlife are being developed, the procedures available thus far (mainly RFLP and phylogenetic approaches) are too time-consuming and expensive for routine management, law enforcement and conservation applications. To address this issue, we have developed a highly streamlined, multiplex PCR-based approach that can discriminate between multiple (up to nine) shark species simultaneously with a single-tube PCR. We report on the diagnostic assay, and demonstrate its use in U.S. NOAA fisheries law enforcement, global scale identification of products from CITES and/or IUCN shark species of concern, and characterization of the Hong Kong shark fin trade. (Keywords: Sharks, fins, law enforcement, CITES, DNA)