Assessment of the health status of the European anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus) in the NW Mediterranean Sea from an interdisciplinary approach and implications for food safety

Oriol Rodríguez-Romeu, Anna Soler-Membrives, Francesc Padrós, Sara Dallarés, Ester Carreras-Colom, Maite Carrassón, Maria Constenla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The European anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus) is a small pelagic fish with an outstanding commercial value supporting important fisheries and is a key component of pelagic ecosystems in the Mediterranean Sea. Progressive reductions in the population size of this species has been observed in the Mediterranean Sea during recent decades, accompanied by a decline in the body condition, as well as the size/age of maturation. Nonetheless, the health status has not been yet assessed using a holistic approach. Herein, we analyse the health status of the European anchovy, integrating distinct indicators from fish condition, enzymatic biomarkers, presence of tissue alterations, and parasite descriptors. In addition, we analyse the presence of anthropogenic items (AIs) in the digestive tract of fish and their potential impact on health status. Additionally, we assess the differences between current AIs values and those recorded over 12 years ago. None of the health indicators studied provided evidence of relevant pathologic conditions affecting this fish species in the studied area. However, changes in the pattern of liver parenchyma were found. Compared with anchovy populations from other distribution areas, no zoonotic parasites were recorded in this study, demonstrating a reduced risks associated with foodborne transmission to humans. AIs, such as fibres and plastic particles, were found in the digestive tract of half of the fish analysed. A significant increase was detected in AIs prevalence between 2007 (40 %) and 2019 (70 %), alongside differences in the abundance and typology of the AIs, though this does not seem to have impacted fish health yet. Therefore, our work underscores the importance of implementing a regular program to monitor the health status of this key species to better understand population dynamics and their drivers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156539
Number of pages15
JournalScience of the total environment
Volume841
Early online date7 Jun 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jun 2022

Keywords

  • Animals
  • Ecosystem
  • Fishes/parasitology
  • Food Safety
  • Health Status
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Parasites

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