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Piasecki W., Barcikowska D., Keszka S., Panicz R. 2020. Parasitic copepods (Crustacea: Copepoda) infecting muscles of a marine fish (Actinopterygii: Moridae)—A spectacular effect on a host fish and a case of seafood identity fraud. Acta Ichthyol. Piscat. 50 (4): 453–464.

Background. Automated processing of the fish caught on board a ship can potentially lead to a quality control breach. Specimens visibly infected with parasites are processed, frozen, and directed to the market. On the other hand, the removal of the body elements of taxonomic importance (e.g., fins, head, skin) opens gates to variously motivated seafood frauds. We had been alerted by local veterinary authorities about a fish consignment from the Falklands with a substantial volume of muscles with black contents.

Materials and methods. The material for the presently reported study were decapitated, finless, and gutted fish delivered to our lab by the County Veterinarian of Szczecin (Purchased by a local importer from a Spanish fish wholesaler). The fish were labeled as “Pseudophycis bachus (Forster, 1801)”, and allegedly came from the Falklands. After thawing, the fish muscles were dissected, focusing on the distinctly black areas, examined following methods commonly used in parasitology, and observed under a dissecting and a compound microscope. Samples were collected also for molecular studies aiming to disclose the fish taxonomic identity. DNA barcoding gene (cytochrome c oxidase subunit I, COX1) was used to perform the genetic characterization for the collected fish specimens. The degree of similarity between the new records (MT318699 and MT318700) and the other records of Moridae species in the GenBank was assessed by building COX1 gene phylogeny.

Results. The muscles contained large galls filled with black fluid. The fluid stained the adjacent muscles. Inside each gall, we found a single female of Sarcotaces sp., several “dwarf” males, eggs, and newly hatched nauplius stages. Using the molecular methods, the fish were identified as Mora moro (Risso, 1810).

Conclusion. A preliminary veterinary inspection of the catch on board of fishing vessels may help to avoid huge financial losses when a parasitized fish consignment is rejected by veterinary authorities on land. It is evident that the European regulation regarding fish parasites requires an urgent revision. Mora moro does not occur off the Falklands as declared by the wholesaler. This seafood fraud was probably motivated by the urge to conceal a catch from European waters and thus avoid exceeding national fishing quotas. Species of the genus Sarcotaces require a revision backed by molecular methods.

Keywords: copepod, Sarcotaces, endoparasite, mesoparasite, host–parasite relation, Mora moro, seafood fraud, fish quota violation



DOI: 10.3750/AIEP/02932

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