Andy Sharpless is the CEO of Oceana.
Oceanaâ€™s new Seafood Fraud campaign kicked off Wednesday with an event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. As the Washington Post reported, it wasnâ€™t just a press conference; it was also a seafood pop quiz.
Our campaigners asked audience members to identify skinless fillets of halibut and fluke by sight, and did the same for red snapper vs. hake and for farmed vs. wild salmon. Then they conducted a taste test between tilapia and vermilion snapper.
The result? While a few fish-savvy folks passed the tests, many people couldnâ€™t tell the difference, which is a simple illustration of how easy it is to fool seafood consumers.
Thatâ€™s one of the key points of our new report, â€śBait and Switch,â€ť which explains how consumers are frequently served a completely different fish species than the one they paid for. Seafood may be mislabeled as often as 25 to 70 percent of the time for fish such as red snapper, wild salmon and Atlantic cod, according to recent studies.
Do you eat seafood? If not, do your friends and loved ones? We think almost everyone out there will answer yes to this, which is why we are launching a campaign today to tackle the problem of seafood fraud.
Last week we gave you a preview of our new seafood fraud campaign, but today, with the launch of a new report, our campaign is officially kicking off.
Oceanaâ€™s new report, titled â€śBait and Switch: How Seafood Fraud Hurts Our Oceans, Our Wallets and Our Health,â€ť explains how consumers are being misled about the seafood they buy, with negative impacts on their wallets, marine conservation efforts and human health.
Inside the report youâ€™ll find information about the following:
- What is seafood fraud? - We explain the different types of seafood fraud, which share this basic fact in common: you arenâ€™t getting what you pay for.
- Examples of commonly mislabeled seafood - What seafood should you be especially wary of? We give you the lowdown.
- Do you know the origins of your seafood? - We take you through the steps your seafood might have taken from the boat to your plate.
- Health risks of seafood fraud - Learn about the serious consequences to misleading consumers about seafood - from allergic reactions to the potentially debilitating condition called ciguatera.
- Conservation impacts of seafood fraud - Find out how seafood fraud creates a market for illegal fishing and hinders consumer efforts like seafood cards.
- Tips for consumers - With all of this in mind, here are some tips for when youâ€™re shopping for fish.
And you can also take action right now by telling the FDA that our seafood needs to be safe, legal, and honestly labeled.
Check out the full report, and please share with your friends and family! And as always, let us know what you think.
Think back to the last time you ate seafood: Do you know what species it was and where it was caught? If you think the answer is yes -- we hate to break it you, but you might have been fooled.
Seafood fraud is making it extremely difficult for consumers like you to tell where your seafood comes from, and in some cases, what it is, with major consequences for ocean health, your health and your wallet.
At Oceana we think this is a serious problem, and next week we are launching a brand new campaign to change it.
A whopping 84 percent of the seafood eaten in the United States is imported, but only 2 percent is currently inspected and less than 0.001 percent specifically for seafood fraud. Seafood fraud can come in many different forms, from mislabeling fish and falsifying documents to adding too much ice to packaging.
Our seafood is following an increasingly complex path from fishing vessel to seafood processor and ultimately our plates. As a result, very little information follows seafood through the system. Recent studies have found that seafood may be mislabeled as often as 25 to 70 percent of the time for fish like red snapper, wild salmon and Atlantic cod.
Oceana welcomed a very distinguished visitor yesterday. We hosted the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Pascal Lamy, along with representatives of 10 major U.S. environmental organizations in a roundtable discussion at our headquarters in Washington, D.C. The roundtable focused on promoting an open and active dialogue about trade and the environment and the WTOâ€™s ability to address both.
The WTO is currently engaged in a dedicated negotiation on fisheries subsidies as part of the Doha Round. These negotiations are historic because they are the first time that conservation considerations, in addition to commerce priorities, have led to the launch of a specific trade negotiation.
Fishing subsidies promote overfishing by pushing fleets to fish longer, harder and farther away than would otherwise be economically feasible. Overfishing subsidies are estimated to be at least $20 billion annually, an amount equal to approximately 25 percent of the value of the world catch.
If you thought bluefin tuna were just another faceless fish, you thought wrong. Not only are they some of the fastest and most impressive predators in the ocean, they are also in serious trouble from overfishing.
In a few weeks, the world will have a chance to change bluefinâ€™s fate, and we are asking you all to spread the word â€“ by putting your face on this threatened fish. How, you ask? Well, our colleagues in Europe just launched a website, www.stoptunablues.org, where you can do just that.
From November 17-27th, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) will meet in Paris. ICCAT is an international body responsible for the conservation and management of bluefin, and Oceana will be in Paris to pressure the Commission to do more to protect bluefin.
Bluefin may not be as cuddly as panda bears, but you are â€“ so help us save bluefin by offering your (incredibly attractive) likeness to the cause, and then spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, and any other way you want!
In the latest update from the Latitude, Oceana scientist Jon Warrenchuk describes the ROVâ€™s dive near Key West.
The underwater ridge looked promising: South of Key West, 10 miles offshore and 200 meters deep. The bathymetric lines piled up steeply on the chart, indicating some steep relief in some otherwise flat habitat. As far as I knew, no one had ever seen what the seafloor looked like in that area. We deployed the ROV some distance from the site, trying to take into account the drift of the boat.
In todayâ€™s expedition update from Dustin, Oceanaâ€™s divers get up close and personal with some rare giants of the gulf:
It was another day of diving for the crew onboard the Oceana Latitude. Todayâ€™s site was nearly 15 miles from Port St. Joe and is home to Sherman Tug, a vessel that was sunk in 1996 and now sits upright 75-feet underwater.
This sunken ship is covered in gorgonians and sponges and inhabited by schools of grunts, spadefish and almaco jacks. In addition to spotting a blue angelfish and leopard toadfish, the divers saw two goliath groupers, one weighing approximately 100 pounds and the second nearly double that size.
These inquisitive giants were in steep decline until the U.S. government imposed a ban on catching the species in 1990. Although a slow growth rate makes rebuilding their populations a slow process, itâ€™s gratifying to see them up close and personal.
Hereâ€™s a video by Gorka Leclercq:
It was an exciting day yesterday on the Latitude, as Dustin reports. We owe a hearty thank you to Nautica, who is making this leg of the expedition possible.
Saturday, September 11
The heat and humidity did not divert the Oceana crew from the important task at hand today.
After running a few more quick tests on the Spanish ROV, the crew sent it down for its first operation. Positioned near the â€śAlabama Alps,â€ť the ROV was lowered nearly 250 feet to the ocean floor.
As strong underwater currents tried to move the Oceana Latitude from the operation site, expedition leader Xavier Pastor worked closely with the shipsâ€™ crew to ensure that all the necessary measures were taken to keep us on course.
Hereâ€™s Xavier Pastor:
In todayâ€™s update from the boat, expedition leader Xavier Pastor discusses the preparations for the next leg of the journey, and the diversâ€™ exploration of the waters beneath one of the gulfâ€™s myriad oil rigs.
Itâ€™s incredible to think about communities of marine life living in the shadows of oil rigs, isnâ€™t it?
Have a burning question about our ongoing expedition in the gulf? Ask it in the comments!
The Latitude is like an anthill. Thereâ€™s a crane working on deck to remove some of the materials that were used in the last stage of the expedition: anchors, compressors, chains, ropes, buoys...
Part of the Oceana crew is also packing their bags in order to make room for the new members of the expedition who are slowly making their way to the boat.
The frenetic activity on-board is slowed only by the heat. Itâ€™s so hot, and the humidity is so high, that even the boatâ€™s operators have to stop and drink water to avoid dehydration.
As you know, Wednesdays are normally devoted to blogging about the latest whale news. But Iâ€™ve redubbed todayâ€™s post in honor of yesterday's news about a certain sleek giant of the sea who continues to fetch exorbitant auction prices as it heads toward extinction. It makes you go, â€śWha?â€ť
Yesterday, a 513-pound bluefin tuna sold for $177,000 -- the most since 2001 -- in an auction at Tokyoâ€™s famous fish market.
Ironically, the sale took place amid a decline in Japanese tuna consumption due to the nationâ€™s worst recession since World War II.
So as Tokyoâ€™s fish market representatives fret over how to keep c