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Wednesday, 2 October, 2002, 14:36 GMT 15:36 UK
Salmon DNA to help preserve fisheries
Baby salmon
Samples will come from 10 rivers with salmon
Genetic fingerprints are being taken of salmon in the South West in a pioneering project to preserve stocks.

A forensic database of DNA will be created that will enable scientists to pinpoint exactly which rivers salmon come from.

Experts also say there is a gap in their knowledge about the journey through life a salmon takes.

It is hoped the new use of genetic science will bridge that gap as the fish are followed through their lives.


Rivers whose populations are ailing, we're able to move exploitation away and make a sustainable fishery

Dylan Bright
The new research project is being carried out by the Westcountry Rivers Trust and the University of Exeter.

Andrew Griffiths of the University said: "It's similar to what you do in human biology. When you see human forensics you see big bands on a gel picture.

"You look at patterns produced by the DNA and you can compare between individuals.

"You can almost get a unique pattern, like you do with human genetics and forensics."

All that is needed to form a salmon database is a single scale or even a tiny sample of mucus from a number of fish.

Over the next three years, samples will be taken from 10 South West rivers.

Salmon stocks in the region have been falling for years and it is hoped the fingerprint database can be used to prevent overfishing in rivers.

DNA laboratory
Samples are being taken for three years

Dylan Bright of the Westcountry Rivers Trust said: "What we'll be able to do is take fish from anywhere in the north Atlantic, eventually, hopefully, and be able to identify their river of origin and the river that they would be heading back to to spawn.

"That will enable us to manage the exploitation of stocks.

"Rivers whose populations are ailing, we're able to move exploitation away from those rivers and allow them to recover and basically make a sustainable fishery."


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See also:

25 Sep 02 | Science/Nature
23 Sep 02 | Science/Nature
07 Aug 02 | Scotland
02 Aug 02 | Scotland
16 Jul 02 | Scotland
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