When you ordered grilled hogfish for dinner, was what you got actually hogfish? Perhaps not, according to a new investigation into seafood fraud conducted by Oceana, a D.C. nonprofit that works to protect the world's oceans. The organization used DNA analysis to test 449 fish from 287 restaurants and retail outlets in 24 states and the District of Columbia and found that one in five of the products were mislabeled.
According to the report, restaurants and markets were selling Sutchi catfish and spinycheek grouper as hogfish, giant perch and Nile tilapia as sea bass, and walleye as Dover sole. Oceana also found that sea bass and snapper are among the fish that are mislabeled most frequently, vulnerable species are substituted for sustainable catches and imported seafood is marketed as locally sourced.
“Seafood fraud ultimately deceives consumers who fall victim to a bait and switch, disguises conservation and health risks, and hurts honest fishermen and seafood businesses," said Oceana deputy vice president Beth Lowell, according to a press release. "Seafood traceability—from boat to plate—is critical to ensure that all seafood sold in the U.S. is safe, legally caught and honestly labeled."