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New Report Shines a Light on the Seafood Fraud Rampant Across the U.S.

How much should Americans care about the fish on their plates? Namely, whether the type of seafood they’ve ordered — red snapper at a sushi restaurant, sea bass at a supermarket counter, tuna on a Subway sandwich — is actually the type of fish they’re served?

A lot, argue researchers of a new report on seafood fraud from the Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS). Due to the complexity and opacity of global seafood supply chains, and challenges for NGOs and scientists to examine them comprehensively, estimates of fraud vary wildly, from 16.5 to 75 percent of all fish imported into the U.S. Nevertheless, “Seafood is an industry where we really see the problem of food fraud occurring on a wide scale,” says Emily Spiegel, the report’s co-author.

Those occurrences can result in host of serious impacts. For example, seafood fraud threatens ocean biodiversity, when species of concern are harvested and passed off as something else.