Seafood Labeling Fraud: Chilean Sea Bass

Written by on August 25, 2011 in Marine Life, Policy & Ocean Law

Emily Tripp
Senior Writer

Clemson University population biologist Peter Marko and his colleagues Holly Nance and Kimberly Guynn, have found discrepancies among certified Chilean sea bass.  Some fish sold in stores do not come from areas that are certified as sustainable.  What’s worse is that some fish are not even Chilean sea bass at all.  Their results are published in the August 23 edition of Current Biology.

The fish supply chain begins with certification of fishing grounds by the Marine Stewardship Council and ends in a market with a label indicating it is sustainably harvested.  These findings, in addition to previous findings about seafood labeling fraud, indicate problems in this “chain of custody.”

The researchers collected 36 fish at retail outlets in eight states; after analyzing the mitochondrial DNA they found that eight percent of the fish were “actually other species,” according to Marko.  They also concluded that 15 percent of the fish had mDNA variants that are not found in the South Georgia/Shag Rocks population, located in the South Ocean between Antarctica and the southern tip of South America, which is the only certified Chilean sea bass fishery.

“Our data point to a problem with the supply chain,” said Marko.  “Fish are being sold that are improperly labeled.  Where and how the uncertified fish reach market was not the focus of our research but are issues that deserve attention.”

Chilean Sea Bass. Photo Credit: U.S. FDA.

Chilean Sea Bass. Photo Credit: U.S. FDA.

Copyright ©  2011 by Marine Science Today, a publication of OceanLines LLC

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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