Owing to their relative longevity, sensitivity and the possession of some human analogous metabolic detoxification processes, fish have long been used as sentinel species for environmental pollution (Hartl, M.G.J., 2002). Biomarkers, loosely defined as measurable effects providing evidence of exposure, will ideally lead to the establishment of causality and provide the necessary data to inform management decisions. Despite the increasing importance of fish cell lines and the development of in vitro coculture models in routine toxicity testing, the use of whole organism exposure models still deliver ecotoxicological information, such as condition, growth, fecundity and population dynamics, that the former cannot, especially where novel contaminants are concerned. Whole animal ecotocxicology studies should therefore be part of an integrated, appropriately regulated and licenced biomarker study.
Mark Gj Hartl