Poll Finds 83% of Americans Support New Seafood Traceability Requirements
Obama Administration Expected to Issue Final Rule to Address Seafood Fraud
Press Release Date: September 27, 2016
Location: Washington, D.C.
Today, Oceana released a poll revealing that 83 percent of Americans support new requirements focused on eliminating seafood fraud in the United States, including requiring that key information such as what type of fish it is, and how and where it was caught or farmed, follows our seafood from boat to plate.
The national poll, conducted by the non-partisan polling company icitizen, surveyed 1,000 registered American voters online from September 15-19, 2016, and is being released as the Obama administration is expected to issue its final traceability rule to address seafood fraud in the United States.
“From our investigations, we know that seafood fraud is a pervasive issue in the United States, but now it’s clear that Americans want a solution,” said Beth Lowell, senior campaign director at Oceana. “President Obama has a legacy-building opportunity to protect Americans from seafood fraud and illegal fishing. While the proposed seafood traceability program is a great step in the right direction, it’s critical that the Obama administration and Congress commit to expanding it to include all seafood and extending it from boat to plate. American consumers have a right to know more about their seafood, including what kind of fish it is, and how and where it was caught or farmed. Without full-chain traceability for all seafood, consumers will continue to be cheated, hardworking, honest fishermen will continue to be undercut, and the long-term productivity of our oceans will continue to be in jeopardy. All seafood sold in the U.S. should be safe, legally caught and honestly labeled.”
Other key findings from the poll include:
- Support for new seafood traceability requirements is consistent across demographic (gender, age, education and region) and political lines (D-87 percent, R-81 percent).
- Seventy-one percent of Americans believe that seafood fraud is a problem in the United States.
- Of the three-quarters of Americans that eat or purchase seafood on a monthly basis:
- Seventy-six percent would pay more to know that their seafood is legally caught and honestly labeled.
- Eighty-eight percent think it is important to know what type of seafood they are eating.
The Presidential Task Force on Combating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Seafood Fraud, which was originally established in June 2014, released a proposed rule in February that would require increased documentation and traceability for 13 at-risk seafood types from the boat to the U.S. border.
To access the poll results, please click here.
Since 2011, Oceana has worked to stop seafood fraud in the United States.
Oceana’s investigations of fish, shrimp, crab cakes, and most recently salmon, in retail markets and restaurants found that, 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 safer to eat.
Earlier this month, Oceana released a new report detailing the global scale of seafood fraud, finding that on average, one in five of more than 25,000 samples of seafood tested worldwide were mislabeled. In the report, Oceana reviewed more than 200 published studies from 55 countries, on every continent except Antarctica, and found seafood fraud present in each investigation with only one exception. The studies reviewed also found seafood mislabeling in every sector of the seafood supply chain: retail, wholesale, distribution, import/export, packaging/processing and landing.
The report also highlighted recent developments in the European Union to crack down on illegal fishing and improve transparency and accountability in the seafood supply chain. Following numerous seafood fraud investigations over 12 years, as well as public attention to the problem, overall fraud rates in the EU appear to have decreased from 23 percent in 2011 to a low of 8 percent in 2015. According to Oceana’s analysis, preliminary data out of the EU suggests that catch documentation, traceability and consumer labeling are feasible and effective at reducing seafood fraud.
For more information about Oceana’s campaign to stop seafood fraud, please visit www.oceana.org/fraud.