The aim of the project is to generate a genomic library sequence of the North Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) from 4 industrially important North Atlantic populations in order to identify genetic population structures.
A secondary goal is to select and evaluate a panel of Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) enabling genetic differentiation of North Atlantic herring stocks.
The Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) is one of the most abundant fish species and is an important economical and nutritional resource. The Faroe Islands exported herring worth 325 million DKK in 2013, which amounts to 6% of the total value of exported goods that year
The species has a vast geographical distribution and is a highly migratory pelagic species. This behavior has made it difficult to elucidate the population structure – an important parameter for proper management of stocks and a mean to avoid over-exploitation. In order to keep the fisheries sustainable, population structure and differentiation is a necessary mean also for the forensic identification of fish and fish products throughout the food processing chain from net to plate and it would assist in the fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, currently a priority for the European Union.
The problem seen by the fishery industry
According to the fisheries industry, there are often mixtures of herring stocks in their catches. Since the pelagic fishing industries in the different Nordic Countries are allotted quotas for each stock, they must assess and report the stock ratio in the mixed catches. Today, the separation of fish stocks is done by a manual judgment on the sexual maturation of the catch, an inherently inaccurate identification method.
Moreover, the nations taking part in the herring fishery in the North Atlantic disagree on the distribution and size of quotas, a disagreement that has recently escalated into the EU enacting trade sanctions against the Faroe Islands.
Amplexa Genetics A/S, the Faroe Marine Research Institute, the Faroese Food- and Veterinary Agency and the University of the Faroe Islands.
Hans Atli Dahl, Ph.D.