What is the objective of the FISH-PARASITES program?
The present project is supported by the ANR (French National Agency of Research) and coordinated by Dr Eduardo Dei-Cas (“Biology and Diversity of Eukaryote Emergent Parasites” laboratory at the Pasteur Institute of Lille). The goal of the project is targeting fish parasites with impact on both health of consumers and quality of seafood.
For the first time, the prevalence of parasites in species of marine and freshwater fish most commonly consumed in France will be studied after inland and offshore fish sampling. Sampling campaigns will be done with the assistance of the IFREMER (Nantes), ANSES (Boulogne s/mer et Maisons-Alfort) and Nouvelles Vagues (Boulogne s/mer). Once parasites will be collected, depending on zoological group, their morphological or molecular identification will be done at the genus, species or other taxonomic level by the partners, according to their specific expertise.
We focus also our efforts on setting up an efficient image-assisted candling table to be transferred to the industry in order to a better detection of the presence of larvae in edible fish or fish products.
Another task of the project is based on the organization of continuing education and training programs specifically oriented towards staffs of the fishery channel, to the general public interested in the subject, and to journalists specialized in health or food-related topics. A better knowledge acquired on parasite of edible fish should ease the communication about potentially associated health risks, should highlight the importance of respecting straight forward prevention advices and should lead to avoid access of parasitized fish or fish products on the market. The aim of the trans-disciplinary Continuing Professional Training Platform is to deliver the most updated, applicable and accessible knowledge on parasites of marketable fish. This formation is organized by the Department of Continuing Education of the Pasteur Institute of Lille.
What is your job on board?
We ship on ocean IFREMER vessels to collect fish belonging to a list of target species considered as a priority due to a high frequency of consumption in France. Our job on board is to inspect the fish seeking for the presence of external parasites on the gills or the skin, internal parasites maybe localized in the visceral cavity, gastrointestinal tract, gonads, etc.. We look also if parasites are causing visible lesions on different organs. When parasites are found they are collected, using preservation solutions according to the morphological and molecular identification techniques that will be used later in the laboratories. Some organs of the fish are preserved for histological studies. The fish fillets are cryopreserved on board.
What was your work before leaving and what will be your work on this program back to main land?
The preliminary work before sampling was the selection of the list of fish species to sample in priority (risk ranking). Fifteen species were selected taking into account the frequency of consumption of certain species in France and some data found in the literature about parasite prevalence.
When we land, our main task consist on the identification of collected parasites, to fill the database that has been specifically created for the project and to analyze all the data in order to identify parasite prevalence depending on the fish species, fish geographic areas and seasonality.