A new method for distinguishing between tuna species has been presented in a paper co-authored by Dr Jordi Viñas, a fish genetics specialist at Girona University in Spain and Dr Sergi Tudela, Head of Fisheries of WWF Mediterranean.

The new method is based on gene sequencing and the researchers hope that it will support fisheries management and make trade restrictions possible for endangered species of tuna, since it can be used to accurately identify the species from any kind of processed tuna issue. It works for all eight recognized species of tuna, including highly endangered species like the Southern and Pacific bluefin tuna.

The true tunas belong to the genus Thunnus and are among the most endangered of all commercially exploited fish. They are also high priced, so when you pick up some cheap tinned fish in the supermarket the box will rarely contain Thunnus; the content will in most cases have been made from fish belonging to related families such as mackerels.

The Principality of Monaco has already lodged an application before the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) for a trade ban on the endangered Atlantic (Northern) bluefin tuna.

The paper – “A Validated Methodology for Genetic Identification of Tuna

Species (Genus Thunnus)” – was published on October 27 in the journal PLoS ONE.