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Toxic Fish Species

 

Global warming is irreversibly transforming the Mediterranean Sea as a result of the increase of the sea water temperature. This phenomenon favours the spread of exotic tropical species (tropicalization) via the Suez Canal (“Lessepsian” migration), maritime transport, aquaculture or combinations of these factors. In addition to threatening biodiversity, some alien species can have an impact on public health if they are caught and enter the market. In particular, several species of the Tetraodontidae family or (“puffer fish” or Fugu in Japanese) have been reported in the Mediterranean Sea in recent years. These species accumulate tetrodotoxin (TTX), a potentially lethal neurotoxin of exogenous origin. Its concentration is higher in the liver, gonads, skin and intestine, while the fish meat may become contaminated by contact with the toxic organs, if the fish is incorrectly cleaned, or after prolonged storage before consumption. According to the current European regulation toxic fish species belonging to the family Tetraodontidae, as well as those belonging to families Molidae (“sunfish”) and Diodontidae (“porcupine fish”) should not be placed on the market.

The project “Climate change and food safety: molecular, microbiological and toxicological analysis on toxic fish species in the Tyrrhenian Sea” conducted in collaboration with the Experimental Zooprophylactic Institute of Lazio and Tuscany and funded by the Italian Ministry of Health, aims to monitor the occurrence of toxic fish species along the Tyrrhenian Sea coast and to characterize them under the molecular, microbiological and toxicological profile. The results of the project will provide a more detailed picture on the presence and toxicity of these species, allowing a better characterization of the risk associated with them. This, along with specific training, will allow the management of the risk associated with toxic species and will protect both the operators of the food sector and the consumers.

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INFORMATIVE MATERIALS
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RELATED LINK

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Seawatchers

CIESM, Exotic Fish Atlas Taskforce

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