WASHINGTON – Today, Oceana launched a new interactive map using Google Maps Engine showing the global reach of seafood fraud. The map, which is the most current and comprehensive review of seafood fraud literature to date, compiles more than 100 studies from 29 countries and every continent except Antarctica.
While the percentage of seafood fraud found in these studies varies from 1.5 to 100 percent, the average level is 22 percent (weighted based on sample size). Oceana is releasing the interactive map only days before Secretary John Kerry and the State Department convene a global conference in Washington, D.C. to discuss the challenges facing our oceans.
“Seafood fraud is a global problem that requires a global solution,” said Beth Lowell, campaign director at Oceana. “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. We are thankful that the Obama administration is holding the ‘Our Ocean’ conference because it provides the perfect opportunity for leaders to advance efforts to fight global problems like illegal fishing and seafood fraud.”
Seafood fraud cheats consumers and puts public health and our oceans at risk. It also allows illegally caught fish to be laundered into the market. A study published in Marine Policy in April estimated that between 20-32 percent of wild-caught seafood imported into the United States comes from illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) or “pirate” fishing.
A few of the most egregious examples that Oceana has collected include:
“Profit appears to be a primary motive for seafood fraud and mislabeling,” said Rachel Golden, science fellow at Oceana. “In most cases, cheaper or more readily available species are being swapped for more expensive or desirable ones. But this is more than just a simple bait and switch. Our review shows that seafood fraud is a major public health concern worldwide, and that it provides a market for modern-day pirates to launder fish onto our dinner plates.”
Other highlights from the map include:
Oceana believes that traceability, or tracking our seafood from boat to plate, will help to ensure that our seafood is safe, legally caught and honestly labeled.
For more information about Oceana’s campaign to Stop Seafood Fraud, please visit www.oceana.org/fraud.
Oceana is the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans. Oceana wins policy victories for the oceans using science-based campaigns. Since 2001, we have protected over 1.2 million square miles of ocean and innumerable sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and other sea creatures. More than 600,000 supporters have already joined Oceana. Global in scope, Oceana has offices in North, South and Central America and Europe. To learn more, please visit www.oceana.org.