The Marine Research Institute from Vigo, Spain has launched the first world bio-bank which collects, stores and will distribute samples of marine parasites and associated bio-molecules such as the anisakis, in the framework of the EU ‘Parasite’ project to assess their sanitary and commercial impact on the food chain and validation of tools to mitigate effects.
Ten different commercial species common in almost all fisheries of the EU will be included, as well as others imported from Asia with the purpose of increasing ‘consumer confidence’, improve quality standards and implement food security policies.
The project is financed by the EU and brings together research centres both in Europe and China, Philippines and Vietnam, plus small companies involved in extraction and processing of fish.
The head of the bio-bank in Vigo, Angel Gonzalez said it had become necessary to research and thus mitigate the impact of parasites, which is the purpose of the bank that will not only store biological material, but also will share it with other institutions. All the data plus physical samples will be stored in ultra-freezing bio-security containers to ensure at all moments the traceability of the samples.
“We have advanced considerably in recent years in the diagnosis of parasitosis in the fish stocks exploited and derivates, but we need to continue researching”, said Gonzalez who revealed the project has three support modules, in Bergen, Norway, Rome and Madrid.
Each of the three modules will receive different marine species of commercial interest and analyze the impact of parasites and propose measures to improve sanitation of the produce, the environment and reduce its impact.
Last February when the ‘Parasite’ project was first announced by coordinator Santiago Pascual (from the Vigo Marine Research Institute) he admitted certain “social alarms” because of the presence of parasites in fish products and this “convinced us to try and determine the dimension of the problem and select the appropriate tools to address the issue”.
“We need to dimension the problem of the presence of parasite in fish consumed by humans so that ‘social alarms’ become ‘social alerts’”, said Pascual.