Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Illegal fisheries today are actually a really big business. So the US, for example, is the largest importer of seafood in the world, about 30% of that seafood, we think comes from illegal fishing. It's kind of international crime nexus at this point. And that's what causes people to fish for sharks, take their fins, and then export these to various countries. So technology has a really big role in improving our capacity for surveillance in the oceans and for reducing ocean crime and wildlife crime. Shark fin are the biggest economic driver, but the shark meat then is kind of really cheap. And because other sources of protein like other fish are being depleted, in the oceans, it's just easy to actually also pass on this shark meat as other fish. The fish and chips that people were having in the UK was actually shark meat where they actually thought they were having cod or whatever other fish, it should be. Why should we really care about sharks and why does it bother us if sharks are being taken out of our oceans? Sharks are actually at the top of the marine food web, which means that they're apex predators, and they keep the balance in oceanic ecosystems. If you take out the apex predator, there is an increase in mesopredators that are below the sharks in the trophic food web. And that increase in mesopredators can then deplete species that are at the bottom of the food chain and all of this together, it can just really lead to a big imbalance in the ecosystem. So the MinION is a portable sequencer where in you can take DNA from any given species and quickly prepare it and then you can introduce into the MinION and then you plug it into your laptop and you can actually start seeing sequencing happening in real time. Let's take a scenario where we got a shipment and we want to figure out what's really in this shipment of shark fins. Is it a hammerhead shark or is it a silky shark? Or is it a great white shark? So you would take a small bit of the fins in that shipment and extract the DNA and then I take that DNA and do a sample prep and then plug it into the MinION sequencer. I can figure out what species of fins I'm dealing with in the first couple hours. In order to get more extensive genomic data to figure out the stock, the origin population for these fins, I would leave it plugged in and let it sequence all of the DNA that has been entered into the device for about 48 hours. Using convention techniques you would get this Using conventional techniques, you would get the samples and send it out to a sequencing person. And then wait for you to get the data back. So when we are thinking of law enforcement sometimes the timing is really important because you don't want to wait days or even months kind of get some of these results. Genomes offer a big array of information about a given species. So the first thing that you can tell from looking at a genome is what is the species like. If you have looked at multiple individuals of the same species, you can start figuring out what is the effective population size of this species, from this particular population. So let's see if there are very few genomic variations that would indicate that the population size is not very big, which means that this could be a functionally extinct or really depleted stock. You can take those genetic differences and then test seafood that you think has come from a given part of the world and ask is this shark that they're claiming has been fished in the Indian Ocean? Is it really from the Indian Ocean? Or is it being fished in some where in Atlantic or the Pacific? Genomic surveillance per se is really key in this toolkit because genetic signatures of seafood is essentially tamper proof. I can misreport and turn off my vessel monitoring system so that nobody can figure out where I am. I can mislabel my shipping boxes and say whatever I want to say about the origin and the contents. However, I cannot change the genetic makeup or the DNA of my seafood In the end, the people who are engaging in illegal fishing are doing that in most cases to support their livelihoods. So until we include the communities that are involved in fishing in our conservation programs and partner with them, we are not going to have an effective and sustainable conservation strategy. And no matter how many tools we add to our surveillance toolkit, there's always going to be a way for these communities to engage in illegal fishing and they will do it to support their families and their livelihoods. So it's really important to include social sciences and understanding socioeconomic drivers, and rehabilitation of communities that are involved in illegal fishing or illegal wildlife crime to actually solve this.