California Senate Passes Seafood Labeling Legislation | Oceana

California Senate Passes Seafood Labeling Legislation

Press Release Date: June 25, 2014

Location: Sacramento, CA


Anna Baxter | email:
Anna Baxter

This afternoon the California Senate passed seafood labeling legislation (SB 1138), with unanimous support. SB 1138, authored by Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), will begin to tackle the complex problem of seafood fraud in the Golden State by requiring that all fish and shellfish be accurately labeled by their common names. Oceana appreciates the leadership of Senator Padilla and applauds the California senate for their overwhelming support in addressing the widespread concerns over seafood fraud in the state.

“As Californians we care about our coast.  We also care about sea life and ecosystems off our shores.  Mislabeled seafood threatens species and imperils the sustainability of sea life in the Pacific Ocean and oceans around the world,” said Senator Alex Padilla.

Despite growing concern about where our food comes from, consumers are frequently served a completely different type of fish than the one they paid for. With more than 1,700 different species of seafood from all over the world available for sale in the U.S., it is unrealistic to expect the American consumer to be able to independently and accurately determine what they are actually eating. SB 1138 will begin to turn the tide on seafood fraud.

“Seafood fraud can undermine conservation efforts aimed at preventing overfishing, eliminating illegal fishing, and reducing impacts from damaging fishing gears,” according to Geoff Shester, California Campaign Director for Oceana. “Combating seafood fraud will give seafood consumers more confidence in making positive choices for a healthy ocean ecosystem.”

Oceana, the bill sponsor, conducted one of the largest seafood fraud investigations worldwide between 2010 and 2012 by collecting more than 1,200 seafood samples from grocery stores, restaurants, and sushi venues across 21 states to determine if they were honestly labeled. DNA testing found that one-third (33%) of the samples analyzed nationwide were mislabeled. Alarmingly, California fared among the worst in the nation with 38% of seafood tested in Northern California mislabeled and 52% of seafood tested in Southern California mislabeled. Oceana also conducted a small sampling study in Monterey finding 36% seafood fraud.

“SB 1138 will ensure consumers have access to accurately labeled seafood to help them make informed decisions for their health, their wallets, and the ocean,” said Ashley Blacow, Pacific Policy and Communications Manager of Oceana.

SB 1138 will next be sent to the state Assembly and must receive a vote by the full Assembly by August 31 in order to go to the Governor’s desk for consideration.


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