Maryland Introduces Bill to Reduce Seafood Fraud
Oceana Calls Legislation “Important Step to Stopping Seafood Mislabeling”
Press Release Date: February 5, 2014
Annapolis, MD – Today, Maryland Del. Eric Luedtke (D-14) introduced the “Maryland Seafood Authenticity and Enforcement Act,” which would provide Maryland residents with more information about the seafood they purchase. Oceana welcomes the new legislation and applauds Maryland policymakers for helping to stop a seafood bait and switch in their state.
In addition to requiring that seafood is properly identified at the point of sale – on the label, sign or menu – the bill would also prohibit a seller from knowingly mislabeling a species. If passed, there would also be stronger regulations for the labeling of Maryland’s iconic blue crab, including identifying its origin and limiting sales of a product labeled “blue crab” to the actual species callinectes sapidus, which is the crab that Maryland is known for rather than an imposter in disguise.
Seafood fraud – substituting one species for another that is cheaper, less desirable or more readily available – hurts honest fishermen, seafood businesses and consumers, and allows illegally caught fish to enter our markets. Last year, Oceana found one-third of seafood tested around the country to be mislabeled according to the Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines, including 26 percent of the seafood tested in the Washington, DC and Maryland area.
“To protect the public health, to protect the consumer, and to protect our watermen from unfair competition, Marylanders deserve to know that they are being served the seafood they ordered. And when I order a Maryland-style crab cake, I want to know whether it is actually being made with crab flown halfway around the world,” Luedtke said. “This legislation will give Marylanders the information they deserve about the seafood they’re eating, and I hope my colleagues will agree.”
Oceana campaign director Beth Lowell released this statement following the bill’s introduction:
“This bill is an important step towards ensuring that the seafood sold in Maryland is accurately labeled. Providing consumers with more information about the seafood they purchase helps to protect our health, wallets and oceans. Consumers have a right to know more about their seafood, including what type of fish they are buying and serving to their families.
When ordering Maryland’s famous blue crabs, I want to be certain that I’m actually having crabs from Maryland that were caught in the Chesapeake Bay and that I am supporting local watermen.
While Oceana works to get comprehensive traceability requirements for all seafood sold in the United States, where information follows the seafood through the supply chain from bait to plate, states like Maryland are tackling the issue head-on to protect consumers and prevent regional fishermen from being undermined by mislabeled seafood in the marketplace.
Oceana is working to ensure that all seafood sold in the U.S. is safe, legally caught and honestly labeled. We support Del. Luedtke in his efforts to protect Maryland consumers and honest seafood businesses.”
For more information about seafood fraud and Oceana’s campaign, please visit www.oceana.org/fraud.