Tracing shark DNA from sea to plate in Ecuador
WWF Ecuador recently helped the South American nation to address one of fishery management’s biggest challenges – tracing marine species from sea to plate. They did this by assisting with the opening of a shark DNA laboratory to help Ecuador comply with its CITES* commitments related to trade control.
The shark DNA lab opened 29 January 2018, helping Ecuador in its efforts to sustainably manage shark fisheries and trade by strengthening controls, monitoring, and traceability for fins and meat identification. “The equipment in laboratories will help us to determine which varieties will be restricted and prohibited from being caught,” said Katuska Drouet Salcedo, Minister of Aquaculture and Fisheries. “This will help us improve their control.”
“Establishing the laboratory is part of a project that WWF Ecuador collaborated with the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration, the Ministry and Andes University of Colombia,” said Pablo Guerrero, Fisheries Director from WWF Ecuador and WWF Latin America. “In 2015 we ran workshops on lab management and genetic shark testing. As a result, 28 technicians and professionals from (Ecuador’s government) were trained.”
Ecuador is considered a priority country in the Global Sharks and Rays Initiative, a partnership of six leading conservation groups including WWF. The country has recently established marine management measures such as maintaining finning bans and initiating conservation regulations for hammerhead sharks.
So far, fishers have welcomed the shark lab. “We hope to learn from this system and understand which shark species we cannot fish,” said Gonzalo Conforme, an Ecuadorian fisher.
*CITES: the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
About the contributor:
Jimmy Martinez Ortiz is a fisheries coordinator for WWF Ecuador, where he has worked since 2013. Jimmy is a Biologist, with a Diploma in Fisheries Economics. He has worked in fisheries research, management and conservation since 1980. Jimmy has written several scientific publications related to his area of expertise and has earned recognition from the U.S. government for his leadership in regional management and conservation of sharks.