“Something Fishy” (and not just in Monterey)

Just read a very good article, “Something Fishy,” by Kera Abraham in this week’s Monterey County Weekly on seafood fraud. The reporter accompanied two employees of Oceana who DNA-tested fish in local restaurants, stores, and their suppliers, and the results are disturbing.


The Monterey Peninsula wasn’t originally on Oceana’s target list. But in mid-April Shester, the California program director, and Blacow, the Pacific policy and communications coordinator, invited the Weekly to do some sampling. Five staffers collected a total of 17 samples and mailed them to Oceana’s lab. (Oceana won’t name the lab, a condition of its contract.) Shester and Blacow also mailed in the samples they’d collected at Rappa’s, bringing the total to 19.

Seven of them, or about 37 percent, flunked the test. My “Pacific local cod” turned out to be Atlantic haddock, and Shester’s “sand dabs” were actually flathead sole. A similar sand dab swap happened at Turtle Bay Taqueria in Seaside. Three different samples sold as snapper (at Safeway, Monterey Fish Company and Wild Plum) were rockfish, and a fourth, served raw at Harumi Sushi, turned out to be tilapia. (See table – end of article)

It would seem that a lot of restaurants and markets rely on the public’s ignorance or incomplete knowledge of seafood to pass one thing off as another. The article raises a lot of questions. Regarding Turtle Bay’s sand dabs, exactly what does “wild caught in USA, product of China” mean? With seafood fraud so widespread, how can you really know if the fish you are eating is farmed or fresh, legal or illegal? Who can you trust, among your local restaurants, to be transparent about the seafood they serve?

Read the whole article HERE.

See also:

* Oceana North America
* The Oceana blog
* Overfishing could take seafood off the menu by 2048 (Scientific American)
* Seafood in L.A. frequently mislabeled, group says (Los Angeles Times)
* Specious Species: Fight Against Seafood Fraud Enlists DNA Testing (Scientific American)