Traceability of aquatic animals

T. Håstein, B. J. Hill, F. Berthe, D. V. Lightner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Effective methods of traceability are urgently required for use in research as well as in different types of aquaculture operations and to control trade in aquatic animals and products. In regard to the marking of fish, many different tagging methods have been described and the method to be used depends on the purpose and need for tagging. In contrast, for molluscs and crustaceans, only a few methods of marking such animals have been described, due to the practical difficulties. The authors first describe the different methods for tracing fish and fishery products, by means of external tags, such as Floy tags, Carlin tags and passive integrated transponder tags; chemical marking using inorganic substances such as silver nitrate or potassium nitrate, pigments, oxytetracycline, etc.; and several different types of electronic devices in which basic information such as the strain of fish, farm of origin or weight can be stored. Genetic traceability using deoxyribonucleic acid profiling is developing quite rapidly for cultured brood stocks and wild populations. This technique may be used with very high degrees of confidence to assign to or exclude animals or products from their claimed origin, paternity or strain, and may be used as evidence in court proceedings. The second section of this paper describes the traceability of live molluscs for restocking and for human consumption. In these applications, genetic markers have been demonstrated to be suitable. Mechanical tagging on a small scale for research purposes has also been used. Otherwise, the only means of tracing live molluscs are the movement documents and the labelling on boxes that certifies the origin of the commodity. The third section describes the methods available for tracing live and dead crustaceans. A large variety of physical tagging methods for decapod crustaceans is described, such as the injection of biological stains (fast green, Niagara sky blue, trypan red and blue) and external tags such as coloured streamer tags, wire tags and a variety of anchor tags. Furthermore, a number of different internal coding methods, such as the coded micro-wire tags and injected elastomer tags are discussed in detail. As is the case for fish, genetic molecular techniques are also applied in population studies of crustaceans; some of the molecular genetic methods are described. Prawns for human consumption are most frequently packed whole or as tails after the necessary sorting, washing and freezing and the only way of performing a traceback is through documents relating to movement, invoices, health certificates and labelling of the boxes. The minimum requirements for labelling would be the content of the packages, i.e. species, quantity, identification of the manufacturer (name and address), packing place, importer/exporter or vendor of the product, in addition to the loading bill number.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)564-583
Number of pages20
JournalOIE Revue Scientifique et Technique
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Aquatic animals
  • Crustacea
  • Fish
  • Genetic markers
  • Molluscs
  • Tags
  • Traceability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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