Fish Fraud Sweep Mostly Good News For Consumers

Jun 13, 2012

Dozens of state Fish and Wildlife officers fanned out to seafood retailers, wholesalers and exporters late last week.

It was a coordinated West Coast sweep. The cops were looking for mislabeled fish, poached product and banned seafood.  If you're a fish consumer, the results are mostly encouraging.

Fisheries officers in Oregon, Washington and California say they planned this emphasis to send a deterrence message... especially towards poachers or unscrupulous dealers who might get the idea to launder illegally caught seafood by crossing state lines.

Washington State Fish and Wildlife police sergeant Erik Olson was also on the lookout for shark fins. All three West Coast states banned trade in the Asian delicacy last year as a conservation measure. "Only two markets had any type of shark fin. I was pretty impressed with that on the whole. Just percentage wise that's pretty good."

Oregon State Police Lt. David Anderson says his troopers found no shark fin violations in Oregon.

Speaking from Seattle, Olson says he was pleasantly surprised that officers encountered a low rate of fish fraud or false labeling. Anderson echoes that saying, "Overall compliance was good."

One area Olson says he wants to follow up is how chum salmon is sold. Some wholesalers are trying to market this lower grade as "keta." But Washington state law requires it be called by its common name of chum salmon on the label.