Mislabeling of seafood is rampant in the United States and not uncommon in other parts of the world and it’s a problem that concerns all of us. Purchasing one species but receiving another without knowing it is bad for our oceans, our health and our economy.
Even if you only shop for or eat sustainable seafood, you may still be getting something that was harvested unsustainably. A big part of that is the way we name our fish. There are the Latin or scientific names used by scientists, common names used by divers and fishers, and then there are market names which are used by restaurants and seafood markets. Market names are generally unspecific and can include many different species.
Both common and market names aren’t standardized so it can make the process of selecting sustainable seafood incredibly difficult. For example, Mahi Mahi is also called Dorado or Dolphinfish, but is officially known as Coryphaena hippurus.
Snapper can be even more confusing. There’s gray snapper, yellowtail snapper, red snapper, pink snapper, silk snapper, vermillion snapper, rainbow snapper, uku, utu and, of course, ‘Ula’ula koa’e.
Another popular seafood was assigned a new market name because ‘Patagonian toothfish’ doesn’t sound so appealing. Patagonian toothfish, or Dissostichus eleginoides, is what we know as Chilean Sea Bass, but it’s not sea bass at all.
So what’s the take-home message here? Until we start labeling seafood at restaurants and markets by scientific names, it will continue to be complicated and misleading. The best option is to do your research before going out to buy fish so you know what you’re buying and where it came from!
And check out some of these posts on seafood post:
- Seafood Fraud Rampant in US
- Seafood Fraud Outside of the US
- Seafood Fraud is Also Bad for Our Wallets
- Chefs Take a Stand Against Seafood Fraud
Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.