Coastwide
A recent study by nonprofit Oceana found one out of five seafood samples were mislabeled by foreign producers, restaurants and grocery stores. That includes sea bass, shown here. PETER HANDKE / FLICKR CC

Study: Imported Seafood Continues To Be Mislabeled Despite Federal Oversight

One out of five seafood samples taken from across the country, including Kansas, Missouri and Colorado, are mislabeled. That’s according to a study by Oceana, a nonprofit organization that promotes marine conservation.

Of all the seafood consumed in the U.S., more than 80 percent(2.6 million tons) is imported. And while U.S. fisheries are regulated by the Federal Food and Drug Administration and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, for their environmental impact and risk to consumers, foreign fisheries may not be.

The study, released March 7, found that small independent grocery stores and restaurants were more likely to advertise fish as locally caught or an expensive product (namely, sea bass) that was in fact a cheap import.

“There’s a chance that what (consumers) ordered or what they’re feeding their families is not what they’ve paid for,” said Kim Warner, a senior scientist at Oceana who co-authored the study.

NOAA told Harvest Public Media that its Seafood Import Monitoring Program was implemented last year to track the origins of 13 seafood species. NOAA considers these species to be the most vulnerable to illegal fishing and fraud, but the agency does not track imported seafood once it reaches the U.S. market.

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