Trade secrets: renaming and mislabeling of seafood

As the global trade and market for seafood has grown, so have the twin problems of renaming and mislabeling. Resource scarcity, the potential for greater profits, and weak legislation have all encouraged incorrect labeling, the results of which include consumer losses, the subversion of eco-marketing, further degradation of fisheries resources, and even adverse effects on human health. This paper examines the extent and consequences of renaming and mislabeling seafood, the state of current legislation, and the importance of future policies, with particular attention to the US, where 80% of the seafood is imported and more than one-third of all fish are mislabeled. Policy recommendations include governments’ support for a global mandate to label species, country of origin, and catching or production method on all seafood with high penalties for infractions. Chain of custody standards, such as those recently implemented by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), should also be considered for adoption worldwide. To garner support for this legislation, consumers must become better acquainted and concerned with their seafood and its origins.

Jacquet, J.L. and D. Pauly. (2008) Trade secrets: Renaming and mislabeling of seafood. Marine Policy 32: 309-318.