The Beacon

CEO Note: President Obama Announces Plan to Combat Seafood Fraud at Global “Our Ocean” Conference

The BlackSalt Fish Market & Restaurant in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Oceana / Jenn Hueting)

I have truly historic news to share with you. Today, in a video message shared at Secretary of State John Kerry’s “Our Ocean” conference, President Obama announced his plan to develop a comprehensive program aimed at combating seafood fraud and keeping illegal fish out of the U.S. market.

“The President is directing Federal agencies to develop a comprehensive program aimed at deterring illegal fishing, addressing seafood fraud, and preventing illegally caught fish from entering the marketplace by increasing traceability and transparency,” according to a statement released by The White House shortly after President Obama’s announcement. “The program will be an important step in ending illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, building the market for legally and sustainably caught seafood, and supporting the men and women of the fishing industry.”

This is a tremendous victory for our oceans, our wallets, and our health, and a historic step forward in fighting this global issue. 

Seafood fraud refers to any number of ways seafood can be misrepresented, including the mislabeling or misidentification of seafood, which both endangers human health and enables overfishing. It’s a serious problem — DNA testing studies by Oceana discovered that 33 percent of seafood tested in the U.S. was fraudulently labeled. Because seafood travels through a long, complex process, traceability becomes increasingly difficult and opportunities increase for black market fish to reach your dinner plate, explains Oceana campaign director Beth Lowell in a press release.

Oceana has led the fight against this global issue since 2011. Just last week, Oceana launched a new interactive map displaying the global reach of seafood fraud.  It’s the most current and comprehensive review of seafood fraud literature to date, compiling more than 100 studies from 29 countries and every continent except Antarctica.

Undoubtedly, today marks the start of a global momentum to tackle this issue. Following President Obama’s announcement this morning, both Secretary of State John Kerry and celebrity ocean activist Leonardo Dicaprio mentioned their intentions to fight seafood fraud at the conference. Additionally, several media outlets like The Washington Post highlighted President Obama’s announcement to create a plan to combat black market fish, illegal fishing, and seafood fraud.

Now, with the federal government’s help, Oceana will continue this global fight for the benefit of ocean ecosystems and global ocean health.

For the Oceans,

Andrew Sharpless

Chief Executive Officer


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