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Oceana Study Finds New Type of Fraud Involving Seafood

seafoodHOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB) — When it comes to buying your favorite fish, you could say there’s something fishy going on.

A new study by ocean conservation group, Oceana finds there’s a new type of fraud casting its net over the nation.

While seafood fraud might sound silly, for some fish distributors it’s big business. It’s when a company intentionally mislabels one type of fish as another, more expensive type.  That way they can charge more money as the fish makes its way to market.

Michael Fitzgerald, owner of Schermerhorn’s Seafood in Holyoke says that can mean trouble for less experienced retailers when fish is sold as filets instead of whole and it can be hard to tell the difference.

“It can be difficult depending on what you’re buying. We’ve been here for several years so it’s easier for us. The guy that’s running the restaurant, probably not quite as easy,” says Fitzgerald.

And although controls have improved in Massachusetts for making sure fish isn’t mislabeled, Mike says it’s still important for restaurants and retailers to know where their fish is coming from.

“When you know who you’re purchasing your seafood from and you’re not just purchasing it off of some truck that’s around. That’s a big part of it. People that are running their establishments have to have some kind of trust and you know where to come back if you have a problem,” explains Fitzgerald.

Not only can seafood fraud hurt restaurants and retailers, consumers can really feel the pinch too by buying a more expensive type of fish and receiving something else entirely. Mike says the best way to protect yourself is to know who you’re purchasing from.

“Basically knowing where you buy your seafood, knowing who you’re dealing with.  Schermerhorn’s has been around for 100 years, we like to think that we can be trusted,” adds Fitzgerald.

Representative Ed Markey also issued a quote today stating, “This report proves that this problem is not going away unless we take decisive action to shed some light on the seafood supply chain, and level the playing field for American consumers and fisherman.  I have been working with fisherman, restaurants, and conservation groups to develop legislation that will protect people’s health and their wallets by ensuring that they know exactly what fish they are buying.”

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