Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Species identification

Well known for its expertise in cases involving salmon, the NWFSC Forensics Unit is also fully equipped to analyze samples from many other species. Cases involving mislabeling of seafood and illegal imports of marine animal products are on the rise and the Forensic Unit handles an increasing number of these cases a year. Here is a partial list of the species we currently identify:

Salmon, trout, and char (genus: Oncorhynchus, Salvelinus, and Salmo)

Juvenile salmon Juvenile salmon

Several salmon populations or Evolutionarily Significant Units (ESUs) are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA). The NWFSC has extensive salmon research programs, thus our Forensics Unit is well equipped to handle cases involving both salmonid species identification and population identification cases.

Rockfish (genus: Sebastes)

Frozen rockfish Frozen rockfish

Three rockfish species populations in Puget Sound (bocaccio, yelloweye, and canary) were recently listed as endangered or threatened under the ESA and several more represent species of concern because of declining abundance. The NWFSC Forensic Unit is conducting extensive analytic work on rockfish species identification.

Abalone (genus: Haliotis)

Abalone Abalone

Highly-prized as a delicacy, several species of abalone have dwindled to alarmingly low numbers within their ranges, and are now federally protected (white and black abalone are listed under the ESA).

Harp seal (genus: Phoca groenlandica)

Harp seal parts Harp seal parts

It is illegal to import harp seal products into the United States; however the species is widely hunted in other countries for its fur and body parts, which are often used for traditional medicine practices and leather products.

Bluefin tuna (genus: Thunnus thynnus)

Bluefin tuna Bluefin tuna

Another highly-desirable seafood, this species is subject to highly migratory species (HMS) regulation, and is illegal to take without a permit.

Additional species