Evaluating genetic traceability methods for captive-bred marine fish and their applications in fisheries management and wildlife forensics

Jonas Bylemans*, Gregory E. Maes, Eveline Diopere, Alessia Cariani, Helen Senn, Martin I. Taylor, Sarah Helyar, Luca Bargelloni, Alessio Bonaldo, Gary Carvalho, Ilaria Guarniero, Hans Komen, Jann T. Martinsohn, Einar E. Nielsen, Fausto Tinti, Filip A.M. Volckaert, Rob Ogden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Growing demands for marine fish products is leading to increased pressure on already depleted wild populations and a rise in aquaculture production. Consequently, more captive-bred fish are released into the wild through accidental escape or deliberate releases. The increased mixing of captive-bred and wild fish may affect the ecological and/or genetic integrity of wild fish populations. Unambiguous identification tools for captive-bred fish will be highly valuable to manage risks (fisheries management) and tracing of escapees and seafood products (wildlife forensics). Using single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data from captive-bred and wild populations of Atlantic cod Gadus morhua L. and sole Solea solea L., we explored the efficiency of population and parentage assignment techniques for the identification and tracing of captive-bred fish. Simulated and empirical data were used to correct for stochastic genetic effects. Overall, parentage assignment performed well when a large effective population size characterized the broodstock and escapees originated from early generations of captive breeding. Consequently, parentage assignments are particularly useful from a fisheries management perspective to monitor the effects of deliberate releases of captive-bred fish on wild populations. Population assignment proved to be more efficient after several generations of captive breeding, which makes it a useful method in forensic applications for well-established aquaculture species. We suggest the implementation of a case-by-case strategy when choosing the best method.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-145
JournalAquaculture Environment Interactions
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Aquaculture
  • Conservation genetics
  • Escapees
  • Fisheries management
  • Wildlife forensics


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