Seafood fraud rampant worldwide, new report

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 12th September 2016

A study into seafood fraud has found, on average, one in five pieces of seafood tested worldwide were mislabelled.

The study tested a total of 25, 000 pieces of seafood from across the globe.

Conducted by US-based conservation group, Oceana, the study was part of a report which describes seafood fraud as a “serious global problem that undermines honest business and fisherman that play by the rules.”

The report explores different aspects for seafood fraud including improper labelling, hiding the country of origin of a product and adding breading, water or glazing to seafood just to increase its weight.

Key findings from the report

  • Studies reviewed found seafood mislabelling at every sector of the seafood supply chain; retail, wholesale, distribution, import/export, packaging and processing
  • Seafood fraud was found in every continent except Antarctica
  • Asian catfish, hake and escolar were the three types of fish most commonly substituted
  • Farmed Asian catfish was found being sold as 18 different types of higher-value fish
  • More than half of the samples substituted for other seafood posed a species-specific health risk to consumers
  • 98 per cent of the 69 bluefin tuna dishes tested in Brussels restaurants were mislabelled
  • In Brazil, 55 per cent of shark samples turned out to be largetooth sawfish

Hope in European Union

Despite discovering thousands of seafood fraud cases worldwide, the report said incidences have been falling in the European Union (EU).

With multiple EU investigations and crack downs over the past 12 years, the report says overall fraud rates within the region have fallen from 23 per cent in 2011 to as low as 8 per cent in 2015.

“According to Oceana’s analysis, preliminary data out of the EU suggests that catch documentation, traceability and consumer labelling are feasible and effective at reducing seafood fraud,” Oceana said.