DNA fingerprinting helps catch illegal fishermen

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British authorities have applied DNA fingerprinting technology to the fight against illegal fishing by analysing the genetic code of some suspect flatfish brought into a Liverpool port.

A Belgian fishing boat brought in a catch of skinned and gutted flatfish which it claimed was Sand sole, Pegusa lascaris, a relative of the more expensive Dover sole, Solea solea. Dover sole are covered by strict quotas in the UK to prevent them from being overfished.

Since the fish were prepared for cooking it was impossible to tell if they were real Sand sole or not, without sending them to a lab to be analysed.

Fisheries Inspector Mike Parker told the Scotsman: ""The principle issue of the case was one of conservation. If anybody was to try to repeat the same act, we now have the technology to stop them."