Surprisingly Unsurprising

A non profit did a study of Orange County, and Los angeles seafood, and guess what?

“Oceana examined DNA from 119 samples from unidentified grocery stores and restaurants in Southern California in May and December of last year. Eighteen types of seafood were collected to determine if they were properly labeled, with a target on species that have been found misidentified before: wild salmon, various types of soles, red snapper, yellowtail and white tuna.

Every fish called “snapper” was incorrectly labeled under federal guidelines, the report found. Snapper buyers could be getting anything from farmed tilapia to Pollock, or an overfished rockfish species, the report said.” Quoted from this Article on MSNBC

How appalling.  Seafood merchants are mislabeling the fish they are selling.  I don’t know if it’s 100% intentional, but either way it’s not good.

Part of the speech we give in the Blue Cavern exhibit (modeled after a divesite in Catalina) is about how we call Brown Croakers “White Seabass” because it sounds more palatable.  However, it is important to mention that a name is just that…a name, it’s not the scientific genus.  There is a difference between a varying name referring to a specific fish and just lying about the fish. Although upon further consideration, they’re both misleading.

“Sushi restaurants were the biggest culprits, with 87 percent of their offerings mislabeled. Eight of nine “white tuna” samples were actually escolar, a fish that carries a health warning and can cause intense gastrointestinal distress. The most accurately labeled fish included albacore, blue fin, flounder and sockeye salmon.” (MSNBC)

A CORRECTLY labeled bluefin tuna


Well, as terrible as this news is, it’s actually interesting that they are correctly labeling bluefin, as bluefin is extremely popular and unfortunately, overfished.  So whoever is ordering bluefin is actually getting what they ask for. I almost wish that this was one of the fish the sushi restaurants were lying about.

Because we are not able to conduct our own experiments on the fish we are about to eat in restaurants or buy in stores, there are some things you can do:

1) only shop and eat at places that are transparent. Ask lots of questions, like “what country is this fish from?” “was this fish farmed or wild?”.  If the server or anybody you can talk to is confused, or unhelpful, there is probably something fishy going on.

2) Be a knowledgeable consumer. The Montery Bay Aquarium has one of the most helpful seafood guides. Check it out here.  Although this will only go so far if the places are lying about what they are serving…which brings me to my next point….

3)Support Ted Lieu’s Senate Bill 1486 (for us Californians) to prevent seafood mislabeling in the future. Let us all make informed, accurate choices about the food we choose (or choose not) to eat.


guess it’s hamburgers for dinner tonight.



4 thoughts on “Surprisingly Unsurprising

  1. This is something I would have never thought of. So even if I’m being good and trying to only eat fish that have a healthy population I still might be eating a fish that is over fished? That is lame.

    1. it’s lame, but it’s a problem that can be fixed. i think of a lot of ways to fix it. Like, buying seafood from smaller places that do their own fishing. You can trust someone who’s actually been on the boat. Or, making laws that force restaurants and providers to be transparent. Encourage good behavior by rewarding places that are transparent and boycott places that lie or won’t answer questions. It’s already tough, but keep on keepin on. xx

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