The Beacon

President Obama’s Commitment to Tackle Seafood Fraud Gathers Widespread Media Coverage

A fish market in Jessup, Maryland that promotes seafood traceability. (Photo: Oceana / Jenn Hueting) 

Last week, President Obama announced his commitment to tackle seafood fraud and illegal fishing at the Our Ocean conference — a huge victory for both the oceans and consumers. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and celebrity ocean activist Leonardo DiCaprio also stressed the importance of combating seafood fraud at the conference, and vowed to tackle this global issue too.

“President Obama’s announcement is a historic step forward in the fight against seafood fraud and illegal fishing worldwide,” Oceana campaign director Beth Lowell said last week. “This initiative is a practical solution to an ugly problem and will forever change the way we think about our seafood.” 

The announcement gathered significant press coverage for Oceana, with media outlets producing nearly 60 unique stories about the President’s commitment. Some of the largest outlets included stories by The Los Angeles Times, Time, The Baltimore Sun, Aljazeera America, Popular Science, Reuters, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, The Guardian, and many more.  These outlets also mentioned Oceana and their work to address seafood fraud, as well as President Obama’s move to expand the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument.

Some of the best coverage included:

The president will also direct federal agencies to create a comprehensive program to prevent illegal fishing and stop illegally caught fish from being sold, a move designed to spur the market for sustainably caught seafood.

“Because our seafood travels through an increasingly long, complex and non-transparent supply chain, there are numerous opportunities for seafood fraud to occur and illegally caught fish to enter the U.S. market,” said Beth Lowell, campaign director at the ocean conservation group Oceana. Reuters

Illegal fishing is a global business worth tens of billions of dollars annually, according to Beth Lowell, who directs a seafood fraud campaign for the marine conservation group Oceana. “We think they already have the tools in the toolbox,” to increase the transparency and accountability of the existing system, she says, by using un- or under-enforced provisions of existing laws, as well as the reporting system that U.S. fishers must use to log when, where, what, and how much they catch.—Popular Science

Obama also said he is directing the federal government to develop a national strategy to combat black market fishing and seafood fraud.

Because seafood makes its way through a long, complex supply chain that often lacks transparency, products often get mislabeled, said Beth Lowell, campaign director for the conservation group Oceana.—National Geographic

Oceana has led the fight against seafood fraud and traceability since 2011. In the week before the President’s announcement, Oceana released an interactive map that shows the global reach of this issue—the most comprehensive review of seafood fraud to date. And in addition to campaigning for increased transparency and traceability in the seafood market, Oceana works on several campaigns that promote responsible fishing


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