Seafood piracy shocks US –

Seafood piracy shocks US Published:  28 April, 2014

AMERICANS were shocked to learn this week that between a fifth and a third of the country’s imported seafood may have been caught illegally.

For the past couple of years the country has been coming to terms with revelations over fish fraud – that is seafood which is deliberately mislabelled. In other words what is inside the pack is not what is says on the label.

Now a major study by the journal, Marine Policy, states that even if it is correctly labelled, between 20 and 32 per cent of seafood may have come from ‘pirate’ fishing.

The culprit seems to be imported fish – not fish which is caught in US waters by US fishing vessels. But the fact remains that the United States imports over 80 per cent of its seafood, roughly half farmed fish and half wild caught. South East Asia seems to be the main problem area.

Illegal and unregulated fishing was a problem in northern Europe, especially in the Barents and Baltic seas, until seafood buyers, led by those in Britain, said they would no longer buy fish from any ‘pirate’ vessels.

One of the co-authors of the study, Tony Pitcher, from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, said he and his team were surprised by the results and the scale of illegal fishing.

‘We didn’t think it would be as large as that,’ he said. ‘To think that one in three fish you eat in the US could be illegal, that’s a bit scary.’

The study showed that tuna from Thailand had the highest volume of illegal products, followed by Pollack and salmon from China and tuna from the Philippines. 

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