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  • Chemical tracers in Northwest Atlantic dogfish


Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) Environmental and Fisheries Sciences EFS - Environmental Chemistry


PCBs in Northwest Atlantic dogfish
Chemical tracers in Northwest Atlantic dogfish
Each year, a number of seafood samples are exported from the US to Europe, including edible tissues collected from high trophic level marine fish species such as dogfish. Obtaining information on concentrations of potentially toxic environmental contaminants [e.g., polychlorinated biphenyls, mercury] in these samples is important to ensure that these export products are safe for human consumption. As part of a pilot study, edible tissues (back and belly muscle) of spiny and smooth dogfish collected during fleet study and dockside surveillance operations in the Northeast Region of the US were analyzed at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center for a suite of persistent organic pollutants including PCBs, DDTs and other chlorinated pesticides to determine the influence of biological factors (e.g., length, sex) and geographical collection region on contaminant levels.

Research Themes

Sustainable, safe and secure seafood for healthy populations and vibrant communities
Effective fisheries management provides economic opportunities and ensures the long-term sustainability of fisheries and the habitats on which they depend. The NWFSC seeks to improve the quality and quantity of data used in stock assessments, the methods for assessing stocks and ecosystem sustainability within the context of human modification of the environment. The NWFSC also provides state-of-the-art science and technology to support aquaculture while protecting and maintaining ecosystem health. Further, pathogens, toxins from harmful algal blooms (HABs), chemical contaminants and other stressors of marine ecosystems pose significant risks to health of both seafood resources and to humans. The NWFSC focuses on research to improve understanding of those risks, how to forecast them, and identify means to mitigate their impacts.

Research Foci

Provide scientific support to ensure safe seafood for healthier populations and characterize how human activities and climate affect risks from pathogens, chemical contaminants, and biotoxins
The availability of nutritious and safe seafood from marine ecosystems and aquaculture are essential to maintain and maximize human health. Even though fish are known to have a variety of health benefits, some seafood (wild or farmed) may contain levels of toxic compounds (e.g., chemical contaminants, pathogens, biotoxins) from a variety of human-related and natural sources that can pose health risks to humans, especially for those groups with high rates of seafood consumption. The development of novel methods and technologies to assess seafood safety and biological effects of these toxic compounds remains a priority for commercial, subsistence and recreational consumption of seafood. For example, several species (e.g., zebrafish, sea lions, shellfish) are excellent indicators of environmental stress and potential health threats to marine species and humans. These species can serve as informative animal models for investigations of the mechanisms of toxicity or disease processes. Specific research goals include (1) improve methods for monitoring for the presence of pathogens, toxins and contaminants in seafood products, (2) characterize the environmental and climate conditions that may be favorable for potential biotoxin and pathogen outbreaks, (3) develop technologies to remove chemical contaminants from fish feed and to enhance the nutritional content of aquaculture products, (4) develop a better understanding of the net economic and health benefits of seafood consumption balanced with the risk of exposure to pathogens, toxins and contaminants, and (5) develop new mechanistic animal models for the study of infectious diseases, as well as toxicological, physiological, and biochemical processes relevant to marine animal and human health.


persistent organic pollutants
various classes of lipophilic, persistent chemical contaminants that were used as pesticides and industrial chemicals


Analyses of Persistent Organic Pollutants in Dogfish from the Northwest Atlantic
Persistent organic pollutants, stable isotopes and lipid in Northwest Atlantic dogfish


Species Mustelus canis
smooth dogfish
Species Squalus acanthias
picked dogfish, picky dog, piked dogfish, spiny dogfish, spurdog


Bernadita Anulacion
David Herman
Douglas Burrows
Gina Ylitalo
Jennie Bolton
Keri Baugh
Richard Boyer
Ronald Pearce