When you go to a restaurant and think you’re ordering a white tuna or filet of wild-caught salmon, there’s a good chance the fish on your dinner plate is not what it seems. Numerous studies have uncovered that seafood fraud—the dishonest practice of swapping one type of seafood for another—occurs on a global scale in all steps of the seafood supply chain. Seafood fraud studies have been undertaken in 29 countries and on all continents except Antarctica, and every study have uncovered seafood fraud to some degree.
A new report on the economic benefits of seafood traceability provides compelling evidence for adoption of the practice throughout the seafood industry. Written by Future of Fish, an ocean-focused nonprofit organization, the report makes the case that seafood traceability not only serves to insure a company’s product integrity, but it also provides an added value to the product.
Last week was big for our oceans. Following a two-day summit at the State Department that brought together world leaders, NGO representatives, marine scientists, and other stakeholders to address key ocean issues, President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry announced important new initiatives to protect our oceans from a number of serious threats. In particular, he announced a new effort to fight seafood fraud and illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing that will include establishing full-chain traceability for seafood sold in the U.S.
On Tuesday, the oceans won a major victory when President Obama announced his commitment to fight seafood fraud and black market fish, as well as expand marine protected areas.
Guest blogger Jon Bowermaster is a writer and filmmaker. In this post, Jon reports on the latest trends in seafood traceability.
One of the oldest tricks in the fishmonger’s book is trotting out the notion that the cod, snapper, flounder or mahi mahi that you are about to be served is “fresh today.”
In too many cases that translates as the fish just arrived in the supermarket or restaurant that morning by truck or plane from some distant place. The reality of course is that most likely it was plucked from a farm or raised in nets from the sea many, many weeks before. I once sat in a salmon broker’s office at a fish farm in the south of Chile while she waited for higher prices, as, the fish she was selling were sitting on ice in a 747 on a runway in Santiago, waiting, ultimately for days, to be delivered.
Thanks to some novel and enterprising partnerships between fishermen and chefs around the sea borders of the U.S. - literally from Maine to Alaska - some restaurants and fish sellers are now guaranteeing that the fish on your plate was swimming free just hours before.
This is part of a series of ocean infographics by artist Don Foley. These infographics also appear in Oceana board member Ted Danson’s book, “Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them.”
Have you ever asked yourself, “Where does my seafood come from?” It's not as easy to figure out as you might think. Eighty-four percent of seafood eaten in the U.S. is imported, and it follows an increasingly complex path from the fishing boat to our plates, as today’s infographic illustrates:
Here are the steps your fish may take before it gets to you:
Step 1: All of the seafood sold in the U.S. is either caught by fishing vessels or raised in aquaculture facilities. Fish and shellfish are put on ice or flash-frozen on board the vessel or at the aquaculture facility.
*An interview with Oceana’s Pacific Science Director and oil pollution expert, Jeff Short
*Do you know where your seafood comes from? Digging into the confusing (and sometimes sickening) question of seafood traceability in the U.S.
*A photo essay capturing the Gulf of Mexico oil spill
Read all of these and more in the full issue.