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Traceability of shark and ray fishing in the Brazilian Coast: using forensic genetics for species conservation

Grant number: 19/26296-0
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): July 01, 2020
Effective date (End): June 30, 2022
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Genetics - Animal Genetics
Principal Investigator:Danillo Pinhal
Grantee:Natascha Mozaner Nitzsche
Host Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IBB). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Botucatu. Botucatu , SP, Brazil


The growing realization about the vulnerability of elasmobranchs to commercial exploitation has contributed to a greater concern about the sustainability of fishing worldwide. In Brazil, recent data from the Ministry of the Environment show that 40% of the little more than 150 Brazilian species of elasmobranchs are endangered, with about 20% critically endangered, 5% endangered, 16% vulnerable and 1% already considered regionally extinct. As an aggravating factor, for most species (34%) the available catch data are insufficient. In this sense, revealing the diversity of sharks and rays caught and marketed in Brazil under the generic names "cação" or "stingray" becomes important for the application of stock management and conservation plans. However, on landings and markets, these cartilaginous fish are marketed as processed carcasses, fillets or fins, making it difficult or impossible to identify species from the morphological characters used in the classical taxonomy. Molecular identification methods have been shown to be useful for distinguishing morphologically similar species within the wildlife trade. In the present research project, we propose the implementation of an optimized version of mini-barcoding DNA based on simultaneous amplification (multiplex PCR) of mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I (COI) gene fragments for molecular identification of shark and ray species. This strategy will enable species to be identified quickly, efficiently and at relatively low cost, even from processed samples, thus enabling proper tracking and detection of shark and ray diversity caught and traded in commercial fishing depots across the country. This approach can contribute to the monitoring of regional capture trends of threatened or protected species and to support the effective implementation of fisheries management and regulation plans for the conservation of elasmobranchs as an important genetic resource. (AU)

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