Fishy business

S'pore researchers find mislabelled shark and ray products on market, many of which are from endangered species

A bottlenose wedgefish, also known as a shovelnose ray, in a 2019 file photo. In 2019, the wedgefish was added to Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which Singapore is a signatory to. I
A bottlenose wedgefish, also known as a shovelnose ray, in a 2019 file photo. In 2019, the wedgefish was added to Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which Singapore is a signatory to. It lists species in which trade must be controlled. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Researchers found the critically endangered bottlenose wedgefish, labelled as dried shark meat, cooked shark meat and shovelnose ray meat (above), for sale here. They used DNA barcoding, by matching the DNA in the samples to a global database, to ide
Researchers found the critically endangered bottlenose wedgefish, labelled as dried shark meat, cooked shark meat and shovelnose ray meat (above), for sale here. They used DNA barcoding, by matching the DNA in the samples to a global database, to identify the species as some processed and cooked fish products may be difficult to identify visually. The issue of mislabelling compromises the ability to monitor the trade of endangered species, says study supervisor and marine biologist Huang Danwei. PHOTOS: CHOO ET AL (2021)

The dried fish or salted fish sold at stores here may not be as innocuous as they seem.

Such fish products could actually be harvested from species facing extinction, but buying them in Singapore is easy, say scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Wildlife Conservation Society.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 08, 2021, with the headline 'Fishy business'. Subscribe