Project Details

Is the fish on your plate what you think it is?

Food is an extremely important part of our lives. People are concerned about the rising cost of food and where their food comes from. Consumers want to know if they are getting what they pay for. Beginning in September 2016, senior biology and science students across Canada will be able to use free DNA barcoding kits to find out!

Did you know? A Canadian study (2011) found that between 25 to 41 percent of the fish samples sent in from cities across Canada were mislabelled1Navigate to Reference!

Students examine fish as part of the 2012 Fish Market Survey

Through this data collection project the students will have the opportunity to contribute real data to a project about food fraud. Participants in the Fish Market Survey Action Project will be collecting samples of fish from local grocery stores and markets using DNA sample collection kits and then will send the kits to the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics at the University of Guelph to be DNA barcoded. The barcodes will then go into BOLD Data System, a publicly accessible database of DNA barcodes accessible by researchers worldwide.

Learn More

Join Project


Registration for the Fall 2017 Fish Market Survey is now CLOSED and the registration for spring 2018 is OPEN

Register for CurioCity and/or login to your existing account and then complete the registration form to indicate your interest in participating in the Spring 2018 Fish Market Survey project.

Spring 2018 Registration

Participating classes will receive, at no cost from Let’s Talk Science, one LifeScanner kit. The kit comes with 4 specimen vials, each containing a DNA preservation fluid for animal tissues, a pair of tweezers, collection instructions, and return shipment bag specifically designed for bio-materials. Also included is a padded mailing envelope for the return of the vials for analysis. The Educator will be required to mail the samples back using this postage-paid envelope to the LifeScanner lab at the University of Guelph in Ontario.

Note, additional kits can be purchased from LifeScanner at a cost of $40 per kit. If you purchase additional kits and would like the data to be included in this project, please let LifeScanner know this when you get your kit confirmation email or include this information when you return your samples to LifeScanner.

Fish Scanner Kit


Once you receive the kit, follow the steps below to complete the Fish Market Survey.

  1. Review Lesson Plans:
    Review the various optional and recommended lesson plans, in particular the ACTION: Fish Market Survey Data Collection lesson plan which is the core of the project.
  2. Get fish from grocery stores or fish markets:
    Have students collect the appropriate types of fish (see infographic below and ACTION lesson plan). Students collecting samples will need to enter data on the LifeScanner website. See the Sampling Protocol document for more information.
  3. Prepare Samples:
    Have the students prepare the samples for submission. See the Sampling Protocol document for more information.
  4. Return Samples:
    Use the self-addressed, postage-paid envelope that comes with the kit to mail completed samples to LifeScanner no later than April 6, 2018 for the Spring 2018 project.

Fall 2016-Fall 2017 Participating Classes

Project Resources

Lesson Plans for Educators

A number of lesson plans have been developed to support the project. These include an opening lesson which introduces students to the issue of food fraud and fish mislabelling, hands-on lessons on DNA extraction and Sanger Sequencing and wrap-up lessons on assessing the data from the project and the seafood supply chain.

Lesson Plans Curriculum Connections

View Results

Results from previous years can be viewed on this page. Results from the Fall 2017 project are now available.

Fall 2017 Results Page


Let’s Talk Science is partnering with the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics at the University of Guelph, Ontario and the Marine Stewardship Council to provide free DNA sample collection kits to senior high school classes across Canada.

Center for Biodiversity Genomics Certified Sustainable Seafood

Some of the scientists we are working with include:

Photo - Bob Hanner

Bob Hanner
Associate Professor, Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, University of Guelph

Career Profile

Photo - Dirk Steinke

Dirk Steinke
Director of Education & Outreach, Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, University of Guelph

Career Profile


1. Hanner R, Becker S, Ivanova NV, Steinke D (2011). FISH-BOL and seafood identification: Geographically dispersed case studies reveal systemic market substitution across Canada. Mitochondrial DNA 22 (S1): 106-122.

This content is provided through Let's Talk Science's Education Services team.

Ce contenu est fourni par l'équipe des services d'éducation de Parlons sciences.



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DNA barcoding action project brings science to life for students