Imagine the situation. You went out to a restaurant and paid a lot of money for a dish that was described on the menu as a steak of wild, fresh cod.
But, how would you feel if you found out that the expensive fillet you just ate was actually a different species altogether that was perhaps farm-raised in China, and no wilder than your cuddly dog at home? Most likely, you would feel cheated and ripped off, especially if you paid a high price for the meal. Unfortunately this kind of situation is all too common, something that Oceana’s studies in both Europe and the USA have demonstrated.
The EU and the USA import over half of the fish they consume. Because of the global nature of the fishing industry, the complex supply chain, the massive demand and the large amount of money involved, there are many gaps in the system which allow mislabeling and fraudulent practices to slip through. Or at least certain things happen that may potentially put you off ever eating fish again.
But other than just a hole in your bank account, why shouldn’t you turn a blind eye?
Seafood Fraud can harm your health. Yes, that’s right. When one kind of fish is illegally swapped for another, there is a risk that the fish could contain high levels of mercury and heavy-metal toxins. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that ingesting these kinds of things is NOT good for your body. For example, mercury poisoning can lead to neurological problems, and high levels of mercury during pregnancy can even lead to serious fetal brain abnormalities.
Some seafood is not as “local” as you are led to believe.
That smoked salmon you bought the other day? Sorry to burst your bubble, but there is a chance that it was either raised on a Chilean aquaculture farm and then sent around the world, or else sent to Asia to be processed, filleted and deboned- and then sent back to Norway or other Western countries. Yet, considering the pollutants and toxins that can be found in the oceans, there isn’t always a guarantee that wild fish is better than its farmed counterpart.
However, sometimes it REALLY is. And it’s all down to what farmed fish are fed. There have been previous reports of farmed tilapia in China being fed livestock manure and chicken feces. Other fish such as salmon can be fed heavy-metal contaminated smaller species in fish farms. Then when we eat this salmon, the toxins in turn enter our bodies; somewhat like a toxic domino-effect.
Also, when fish are raised in another continent with a different set of rules and regulations, not every step of the process can be monitored- including the condition of the water that the fish are kept in, and what is done to keep them healthy. For example, fish from Asian aquaculture farms have also been found to contain levels of antibiotic residues that are illegal by Western standards.