According to a new study by Oceana, a large portion of the fish consumers purchase are mislabeled. In fact, during their study, Ocean found that 21% of the species they tested were mislabeled, and were often substituted by a cheaper or endangered species to the desired fish. Surprisingly, large grocery store chains were less guilty of this mislabeling compared to smaller markets and restaurants. While this study may come as a shock, it is not the first time that fish fraud of this nature has been investigated.
The conservation group, Oceana, has been testing seafood for nine years, and previous studies have resulted in similar reports. Beth Lowell, the deputy vice president of Oceana stated, “every time we do a study, we think, ‘maybe we will no longer see a problem,’ but we keep finding it, and we know it’s having an impact on our oceans,”. Given the results of subsequent fish studies, Oceana hopes that the government with increase its regulations on seafood entering the United States. However, previous attempts have not offered much improvement.
In 2014, the US Government Task Force on Combating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud was created. Based on the suggestions and finding of this task force, eventually the Seafood Important Monitoring Program was set in place in 2018. Also known as SIMP, this program enforces the reporting of thirteen fish species when caught, including popular species like red snapper, swordfish, tuna, and king crab. Yet, fish fraud remains a prevalent problem.