Better Late Than Never, I Guess

If you cover the seafood community at all, you know the group leading the fight against fish fraud is the Better Seafood Board. Yesterday, what some might see as an unlikely ally announced its intention to raise awareness about the need for regulators to step up and confront the issues the BSB has been working on. In announcing its intentions Oceana highlighted the April 2010 investigation by 17 state weights and measures departments that led to 21,000 frozen seafood products being pulled from store shelves. However, it either failed to note or simply doesn’t know that the genesis of that multi-state action was a May 2009 standards forum spearheaded by the Better Seafood Board.

What’s more, in its report it derides Bumble Bee tuna for packing mystery tuna because Oceana apparently couldn’t determine the exact tuna species in the pouch. For starters, the packaging and labeling laws in this country do not require the species to be labeled anything other than white or light, and if anyone knows whats in their product and where it came from, it’s Bumble Bee. As a participating member in the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, Bumble Bee can trace its products from capture to plate with a traceability procedure that records the name and flag of catcher and transshipping vessels, fish species, ocean of capture corresponding to tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organization area, fishing trip dates, fishing gear employed, date the company took ownership of the fish and each species by weight. So, if Oceana is looking for an example of a lack of traceability, perhaps Bumble Bee wasn’t the best example.

Regardless of being a little late to the economic integrity party, I guess a warm welcome is still in order, assuming Oceana’s goal is not, as some in the seafood community have theorized, to simply fuel the fires of distrust in the industry and reduce confidence in and consumption of seafood.