WASHINGTON – Today, Oceana is calling on the federal government to require “one name for one fish” for all seafood in the United States. The importance of species-specific names is detailed in a new analysis released by Oceana today that reveals the health and conservation concerns of using ambiguous names for seafood sold in the U.S.
Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires only the “acceptable market name” to be used on labels, menus and packaging. While acceptable market names can be species-specific, they often allow for many different species of fish to be sold under the same market name, including 56 species that are allowed to be called “snapper” and 64 species that can just be called “grouper.”
Oceana senior campaign director Beth Lowell released the following statement:
“Throughout the supply chain, seafood is often transformed from whole fish to fillet, shrimp to cocktail and crab to cake. The current seafood naming system makes it almost impossible for consumers to make informed choices about what they eat. For example, it’s difficult for seafood buyers to know if their ‘grouper’ sandwich is made with a more responsibly-fished black grouper caught off Florida’s Gulf coast or if it’s actually a vulnerable giant grouper from the Indo-Pacific, or even a critically endangered Warsaw grouper.
Requiring the use of species-specific names – one name for one fish – from boat to plate will help deter seafood fraud and illegal fishing. One name for one fish will benefit American consumers as well as the U.S. seafood industry, which is being undercut by illegal and mislabeled products. It will also protect endangered and vulnerable species, decrease the chance of eating seafood with health advisories such as for mercury and allow consumers to source sustainably caught seafood.
As the U.S. government works to implement the recommendations of President Obama’s Task Force on Combatting Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported Fishing and Seafood Fraud, we strongly encourage that species-specific information follow seafood through the entire supply chain, all the way to the end consumer, to help ensure that it’s safe, legally caught and honestly labeled.”
Between 2010 and 2015, Oceana conducted seafood fraud investigations of fish, shrimp and crab cakes in retail markets and restaurants in the U.S. On average, one-third of the seafood examined in these studies was mislabeled—the product listed on the label or menu was different than what the buyer thought they purchased, often a less desirable or lower priced species. Oceana has observed threatened species being sold as more sustainable, expensive varieties replaced with cheaper alternatives and fish that can cause illness substituted in place of those that are safe to eat.
To access Oceana’s full report, video, infographic and other materials, please visit www.oceana.org/OneNameOneFish.