The Feds Are Finally Doing Something About America’s Serious Seafood Fraud Problem

Chances are you’ve rarely stopped to think about the origin and authenticity of the tuna, salmon, or unagi lining your sushi roll before breaking out the chopsticks. But for those occupying the surprisingly shady world of international seafood trade, this information is essential in determining the value, quality, and legality of the protein piled in your poke bowl.

For years, lax laws on fish imports have allowed many illegally fished and fraudulently labeled species to slip through the cracks and make their way into consumers’ California rolls. However, this week, the Obama administration announced new regulations in an effort to crack down on fishy industry behavior—pun intended.

In recent months, the administration faced added pressure to fortify seafood regulations by the nonprofit ocean advocates Oceana, after the organization issued a report revealing that one in five seafood samples in the world are fraudulent or mislabeled on some or all levels of the supply chain, from import to packaging to retail.

The new rules, which will go into effect on January 1, 2018, will require detailed tracking information to be kept on a number of priority species, from initial harvest to entry into US commerce, in hopes of maintaining a clear log of the source and history of any given fish. These species, which have been identified as the most likely to be passed off fraudulently, include a variety of tunas, sharks, Atlantic cod, and swordfish.

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