Will the Real Snapper Please Swim Forward?
With increasing and alarming frequency we hear stories of fish being sold to the consumer as one thing, being revealed as something else entirely. Conservation magazine (Impostor Fish) is only the latest in a string of stories about this fishy business. Remember the NYC high school girls who did DNA testing on their sushi? Or how about the “wild salmon” that was nearly all farmed?
I told readers in 2006 about mislabeled grouper in Miami in Two Fish Tales.
Unfortunately, the situation seems to have gone from bad to worse. No surprise when less than one percent of our imported seafood is inspected. We need to create a demand for better chain of custody, labeling transparency and enforcement. I saw a guy on the streets of NYC last week being busted for selling fake handbags. Arguably, no endangered species were harmed in the making of the bags. No consumers of the $20 “Gucci” bags be surprised to find they were fake. No one would become ill from bags as they might from consuming fish that may have been farmed or caught in polluted waters. I for one care a great deal more about accurate food labeling than “RoLLex” watches.
The final paragraph of the article in Conservation reads:
The diversity lurking beneath familiar labels in today’s supermarkets might even surprise scientists. When Marko’s students sequenced DNA from those 22 fillets sold as red snapper, six of them didn’t correspond to any known species. It raises the possibility that their expedition to the seafood aisle actually turned up something that biologists have yet to discover—a species unknown to science but well known to grocery stores.
This reminds me of the rainforests being clear cut while new species are still being discovered in them. At least forests we can see, few of us see the dead zones in the oceans.