Archive for January, 2008

Seafood consumers have new tool to protect resource

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

There’s a new mobile phone service available to people who want to eat only fish caught in an environmentally sustainable way.

Whether in a restaurant, at the fishmonger or in the sushi bar, consumers in 17 countries can now quickly look up the latest consumption recommendations for over 4,000 sea foods, simply by visiting on an internet-enabled mobile phone.

Seafood Guide Cellphone

The International Seafood Guide for mobile phones, developed by researchers in the European Union project INCOFISH, compiles all available seafood advisories and allows consumers to access them through an easy-to-use mobile phone interface. With just a few clicks, users can get advice on whether a certain seafood can be enjoyed without jeopardizing its future as a food source or harming the environment. Clicking on the ruler icon will alert users to the smallest acceptable size for the seafood (whole, headless, or fillet) to be respected in order to assure the fish was not caught before it could spawn.

For centuries people have used ocean resources as if they were endless. Small-scale traditional fishing has transformed into an industry with gigantic factory vessels replacing small fishing boats. Global fishing fleets have also been improving fish-finding and capture technology, ever-increasing their capacity to track down the last schools of fish in the far reaches of the ocean. Atlantic Cod and other species which have helped build cultures in the past are now severely threatened, as are the livelihoods of fishers around the world. Marine researchers have been documenting the trend of overfishing for years. Their advice to moderate resource use has been falling on deaf ears, as governments continue setting catch quotas well above sustainable levels and condoning damaging fishing practices. With the International Seafood Guide for mobile phones, consumers can now easily circumvent this lack of political will for change by raising their voices and voting with their wallets.

“We would like the consumers to set the rule, to be able to use the ocean resources in a responsible manner,” said Dr Rainer Froese, project leader and fisheries biologist at the Leibniz Institute for Marine Research (IFM-GEOMAR) in Kiel, Germany. “When the demand for over-fished or juvenile fishes sinks, it is not worthwhile to catch them anymore. Our hope is that this instrument can serve all and everyone that wants to be involved in an active protection of our oceans”.

INCOFISH is an international scientific collaboration and European project with the goal to improve coastal zone management, and with a special focus on fisheries. Future development also includes releases of national guides in countries that lack seafood guides at present.

The International Seafood Guide for mobile phones will be presented under the theme “Global Challenges, Local Solutions” at the exhibition of this year’s Seafood Summit, in Barcelona, Spain, January 28 and 29 between 9am-7pm. The INCOFISH team will demonstrate this new information package and respond to questions. Venue is Hall Cataluna and Hall Mediterraneo on Floor -2, the main conference floor, Gran Hotel Princesa Sofía, Plaza Pio XII, 4, 08028 Barcelona, Spain. +34 93 508 10 00 phone, +34 93 508 10 01 fax.

For additional information on or INCOFISH project please contact:

Amanda Stern-Pirlot, INCOFISH WP7 Coordinator; Sustainability indicators
Phone: +49 431 600 4580, after Feb 4, 2008: +44 20 7811 3327, Email: amanda.stern-pirlot (at)

Charlotta Jarnmark, INCOFISH WP1 leader; Data, Tools and Outreach
Phone: +46-761602331, Email: cjarnmark (at)

Rainer Froese, INCOFISH Project coordinator
Phone: +49 431 600 4579 Email: rfroese (at)

Seafood Guide Cellphone

Biodiversity informatics fishes start the year 2008

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

2008 marks the 250th anniversary of the publication by Carl Linnaeus in 1758 of Systema Naturae, 10th edition, a landmark in zoological biodiversity, systematics, and nomenclature, and a cornerstone for animal science. The exact date of publication is obscure, but for the purpose of zoological nomenclature the publication and start date of zoological nomenclature is fixed as 1 January 1758 in the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature.

On the first millisecond of 1 January 2008, Hawai’ian ichthyologist and informatics scientist Richard Pyle has organised a landmark event in biodiversity informatics.

The event includes both the launch of ZooBank with the first formal registration of zoological names , and the publication online of descriptions of a number of new species of fish that are also included in other biodiversity informatics initiatives, not least FishBase.

Chromis abyssus image
Chromis abyssus, one of the new species described by Pyle et al.
Photo copyright 2007, Richard L. Pyle and Brian D. Greene

The new species are published in the New Zealand-based journal Zootaxa, with the following reference and ZooBank LSID:

Pyle, R.L., J.L. Earle & B.D. Greene. 2008. Five new species of the damselfish genus Chromis (Perciformes: Labroidei: Pomacentridae) from deep coral reefs in the tropical western Pacific. Zootaxa 1671: 3-31.

They are five new deepwater species of the pomacentrid fish genus Chromis, and consequently entered in FishBase. Besides morphological descriptions, short mitochondrial sequences, so called barcodes were established and deposited with the Barcode of Life Data System. Specimens were deposited in museum registered with the Biodiversity Collections Index. The species themselves are the first to be registered in Zoobank, with the following global unique identifiers (LSIDs) and links (FB) to FishBase:

Chromis abyssus (FB),
Chromis brevirostris (FB),
Chromis circumaurea (FB),
Chromis degruyi (FB),
Chromis earina (FB),

A short guide to major facilities concerned in this publication:

ZooBank is the World Register of Animal Names, maintained by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. It is anticipated that future Codes of Zoological Nomenclature will include mandatory registration of new names. ZooBank will be the registry site. ZooBank also appoints global unique identifiers (GUIDs) to names. GUIDs are short codes intended to be read by computers and which provide a unique identifier to each name. The GUID standard adopted by ZooBank is called Life Sciences Identifier (LSID) and has been worked out by an organisation called Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG), and adopted by GBIF

Biodiversity Information Standards was known as the Taxonomic Database Working Group (TDWG). It is a not for profit scientific and educational association that is affiliated with the International Union of Biological Sciences. Its missions are to develop, adopt and promote standards and guidelines for the recording and exchange of data about organisms, promote the use of standards through the most appropriate and effective means, and act as a forum for discussion through holding meetings and through publications. TDWG standards underlie the work of GBIF and all other biodiversity informatics projects in the world.

Life Science Identifiers (LSID) are persistent, location-independent, resource identifiers for uniquely naming biologically significant resources including species names, concepts, occurrences, genes or proteins, or data objects that encode information about them.

Biodiversity Collections Index is a collaboration involving TDWG, GBIF, The Natural History Museum (London), Royal Botanical Garden Edinburg, and the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institute. It aims to facilitate the understanding, conservation and utilisation of global biodiversity by creating a single annotated index of all collections of biodiversity materials used in research.

Zootaxa is an online journal for publishing primarily animal systematics, with focus on species descriptions. In addition to a small print copy, articles are published online, and are available through Open Access if the author has paid for release of the article. Starting in December 2001, Zootaxa has quickly become one of the major publishers of animal taxonomy papers.

Open Access is free online access to scientific material in digital format, primarily research publications. There are different levels of open access, but in principle it means that either the publisher, the author, or other copyright owners make available research articles for free on a web site. The Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities may be consulted for details.

The Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL) is an international initiative devoted to developing DNA barcoding as a global standard for the identification of biological species. DNA barcoding uses a short DNA sequence as a molecular diagnostic for species-level identification. DNA barcode sequences are very short relative to the entire genome and they can be obtained reasonably quickly and cheaply. DNA Barcodes are stored in the BOLD (Barcode of Life Data System) database.

FishBase is the world’s most complete encyclopedia on fishes, free on the Internet. FishBase provides information and tools for ichthyologists, and others in any way concerned about fish. FishBase is maintained by a consortium of nine institutions, including FAO, WorldFish Center, Aristoteles University, Afrika-Museum, Swedish Museum of Natural History, National Museum of Natural History in Paris, University of British Columbia, Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences, and the Chinese Academy of Fisheries.

The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) is a major international project to assemble all the world’s biodiversity information in a common search portal. This work started in 2001, and GBIF now serves over 140 million specimen observations and museum objects. In connection with this work, GBIF takes a prominent role in developing the standards and technology for biodiversity informatics.

Read more about biodiversity informatics integration and the many technical aspects of this feast on the first species to be described in 2008 in the original publication by Pyle et al.