One in five seafood samples mislabelled

A new report has revealed that on average, one in five of more than 25,000 samples of seafood tested on an international level was mislabelled.

The report, published by non-profit awareness group Oceana, based out of Washington DC, analysed more than 200 published studies from 55 countries on every continent barring Antarctica.

More than 200 published studies from 55 countries were analysed as part of the report. Seafood mislabelling was found in every sector of the seafood supply chain including retail, wholesale, distribution, import/export, packaging/processing and landing.

In 2014, consumer watchdog Which? found a number of cases in the UK where haddock was being sold as cod, and whiting was being sold as more expensive haddock.

The below interactive map of global seafood fraud is delivered by Oceana.

Without tracking all seafood throughout the entire supply chain, consumers will continue to be cheated, hardworking, honest fishermen will be undercut, and the long-term productivity of our oceans will continue to be in jeopardy, said Oceana senior campaign director Beth Lowell.

Its clear that seafood fraud respects no borders. The path seafood travels from the fishing boat or farm to our dinner plates is long, complex and non-transparent, rife with opportunities for fraud and mislabelling.

Oceana recognised recent developments within the European Union to crack down on illegal fishing and improve efficiency and accountability in the seafood supply chain as examples the rest of the world could be following.

Following on from fraud investigations over 12 years, overall fraud rates in the EU appear to have fallen by almost a quarter (23%) in 2011 to a low of 8% in 2015. According to Oceanas analysis, preliminary data out of the Union indicates that catch documentation, traceability and consumer labelling are feasible and effective methods of reducing the incidents of seafood fraud.

Because illegally caught seafood, some caught or processed with slave labour, could be making its way onto our dinner plates disguised as legal catch, it is doubly important to improve transparency and accountability in the global seafood supply chain, added Dr Kimberly Warner, report author and senior scientist at Oceana.

The increased traceability and consumer labelling efforts in the EU point us to solutions that really do work to decrease seafood fraud, particularly in sectors and products covered by these legal provisions.

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