Expert bait & switched

posted by Veronique Koch on 11 January 2013

Here at Fish Navy, we believe that people should be able to choose their fish wisely. But making an informed choice assumes that all of the information being given to the consumer is true! Sadly, a relatively new form of crime is on the rise: seafood fraud.

 

Seafood fraud is when fish or shellfish is labelled incorrectly in order to dupe the consumer. This kind of bait and switch makes fish markets and restaurants a lot of money since it puts a cheaper fish in the place of an expensive one and sells it at the same high price. This is seen with scallops (chunks of sting rays!), grouper (tilapia!), and even tuna (escolar!). Special task forces have been going out to run DNA tests on fish, and when the merchant gets busted he is given a hefty fine. Oceana reports that seafood is mislabeled 25-70% of the time.

 

Don’t think it’s just your average Joe who gets fooled into buying lesser fish. Even celebrity chef and  National Geographic fellow Barton Seaver was tricked into buying what he thought were beautiful, local Maryland crabs, when in fact he bought cheap (and slightly rancid) Asian imports. As he told ABC’s 20/20 in a recent interview the problem is that “there is no traceability in the system.”

 

Most recently, Barton was named the New England Aquarium’s first ever Sustainability Fellow in Residence. His mission is “to create a better understanding about the connection between the health of our oceans and the seafood on our dinner plate.”

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