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


An Efficient Multiplex PCR Approach to Identification of Species and Geographic Origin of Body Parts from CITES Listed and / or Legislatively Protected Shark Species

Event Name/Location

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

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date

Fall 10-2004


Heavy exploitation of sharks globally to satisfy the demands of the international fin market have resulted in trade in a few species considered particularly sensitive being restricted or controlled by national legislation or international accord (e.g., CITES). Despite these conservation efforts, however, trade in these species continues because law enforcement monitoring and surveillance is hindered by species identification problems. We present the development and application of a highly streamlined, robust, multiplex PCR assay for identification of basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus; CITES Appendix II) and sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus; protected in the U.S. and Australia) body parts in the trade. Given the spatially “patchy” nature of national protective efforts for some species, identifying the geographic origin of the traded products will be needed for legal enforcement, and will be informative for assessing geographic trends in exploitation pressure. To this end, we will present preliminary data on development of a multiplex PCR assay that simultaneously distinguishes species and ocean-basin of origin for the sand tiger shark. (Keywords: Shark trade, DNA identification, shark fins)