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Safe Seafood Choices

Choose your seafood carefullySeafood Fraud

Seafood makes a long journey from the ocean to our plates.  As it passes hands from fishermen to be processed and prepared by retailers, there are many opportunities for deception, misrepresenting of origin, or disguising a lower-cost fish as an expensive one.  In the report Seafood Sticker Shock, Oceana shows just how much profit is made from seafood fraud.  Substituting lower-cost species like tilapia for the more expensive grouper could gouge consumers more than $10 for just one 8 oz. filet in a restaurant.

Price differences of commonly-swapped fish... 

Seafood fraud does not just hurt consumers’ budgets.  It also helps cover up illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, also known as "pirate fishing," which hurts the health of our oceans.  The high profits of expensive fish fuels pirate fishing of some species that can be fraudulently labeled and sold as a legally caught or more expensive fish.  The lack of traceability on our seafood threatens fishing economies, seafood consumers, and vulnerable marine species worldwide.

Seafood Fraud Campaign

Oceana launched the Seafood Fraud Campaign in May 2011 to ensure that the seafood sold in the US is safe, legally caught, and honestly labeled.  As a result of the campaign, the Safety & Fraud Enforcement for Seafood (SAFE) Act was introduced in 2012 and reintroduced in the House and Senate in 2013.  Oceana's goal for this Act is to:

  1. Ensure traceability - that all seafood sold in the US be traceable from the plate back to the boat,
  2. Help keep illegally caught fish from entering the US, and
  3. Ensure consumers have access to information about the origin of their seafood. 

Other Concerns With Our Seafood

Seafood fraud is not the only problem when it comes to seafood.  Commercial fishing practices wreak environmental havoc.  A staggering 20 billion fish caught in the course of food production each year do not even make it to our plate - they are a victim of commercial fishing practices.(1)  The National Journal estimates that 20% of all fish caught by fisheries is classed as "by-catch" (swept up in massive trawling nets by "accident" and then discarded).(2)

First, let's check out some serious health (especially heavy metal) and environmental consequences as a result of how we farm fish today.  Then, let's become educated on the how to purchase seafood with the LOWEST RISK of contamination, as well as making sure our choices are environmentally responsible.

Protect Yourself & the Environment

Only choose sustainably caught seafood.  Sustainable wild fisheries are environmentally responsible and ethical in their practices.  They monitor population control and only catch species that are plentiful.

In addition, avoid or severely limit your intake of fish known to contain higher levels of heavy metals.  These fish include tuna, shark, or swordfish.  Some health food stores certify some species of fish to be free of mercury contamination.   Thanks to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, we have a very helpful guide when it comes to what seafood we should choose, and what we should avoid.

Well-managed or caught in ways that cause little harm to inhabitants or other wildlife Purchase, but be aware there are concerns about how these fish are caught or farmed These items are either over-fished or farmed in ways that harm other marine life or the environment
Best seafood choices Good alternatives Avoid this seafood
Mobile Friendly Guides!

View recommendations on your smartphone

Thanks to the pocket guides created by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, it's now much easier to make safer and more environmentally conscious seafood choices when you are on the go... right from your smartphone.  Download the app for android, iPhone, or iPod touch:

Android app   Apple app

Source:  Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch



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