This past weekend in Boston, representatives from the Obama administration outlined their intentionsfor stricter labeling and control of US seafood. The administration handed out a 40-page report to attendees at a national seafood conference at the Boston Convention Center last weekend. In the report were 15 changes the administration would immediately take regarding the regulation of seafood.
The administration will require foreign governments to better police fisheries, and will push for far stronger labeling on fish imported to the US.
"Eighty to ninety percent of the fish we eat in the US is imported," WCAI and WGBH science editor Heather Goldstone said. "We have a lot of people, and we have quite a demand for seafood, and a lot of health professionals would like to see our demand for seafood be even higher."
Goldstone said on Boston Public Radio that US fisheries are "tapped," which is why there is such a strong demand for foreign fish.
"What they're trying to get a handle on is [that] in some cases overseas, there aren't any fisheries regulations," Goldstone said. "A third of the seafood we import [...] is illegally caught."
'[At] sushi restaurants, you go into the freezer and they've got these ten pound blocks of fish. You pretty much have to do genetic testing [to know] what it is.'
Goldstone said the Obama administration's primary aim with its 15 "action points" was to increase information-sharing and accountability, as well as to be more vigilant at ports of entry to the US.
"Currently, only one percent of that [imported] seafood is inspected."
Goldstone said there's not enough incentive to comply with previous fishing regulations, which is why the administration has come out with such tough regulations, especially for labeling. That benefits the casual fish lover, Goldstone said, because someone sitting down for dinner probably can't tell the difference between red snapper and tilapia.
"Sushi restaurants are one place where this really happens. [...] You go into the freezer and they've got these ten pound blocks of fish," Goldstone said. "You pretty much have to do genetic testing [to know] what it is."
>> To hear the entire interview with Heather Goldstone, click the audio link above.