‘Fishy’ grant for Cornell lab’s monkfish research

PARTNERS IN RESEARCH PHOTO | The federal government has awarded Cornell Cooperative Extension over $200,000 worth of monkfish to sell to market.

The spotlight doesn’t often shine on the bottom-dwelling monkfish’s ugly mug, but researchers at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County are hoping to change that this year, thanks to help from the federal government.

Researchers at the Riverhead-based laboratory plan to study the DNA markers of monkfish stock from Newfoundland to North Carolina to determine if the animals are of the same genetic origin. Researchers said knowing whether the monkfish come from a single or multiple stocks will help guide management decisions.

The federal assistance isn’t in dollars, it’s in fish.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries service research program is giving the lab some $208,000 worth of monkfish, which, in cooperation with the fishing industry, is to be sold to finance the research.

Monkfish is often compared in taste to lobster, and is known as the poor man’s lobster. In 2010, the fish had a national market value of nearly $19 million.

According to a Cornell press release, the project will be a first in evaluating the fish’s stock using sensitive DNA markers.

New York University and Rutgers University are also participating in the research.

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