Image from Greenpeace.
Seafood consumers and distributors have come a long way in the United States to better understand the origins of seafood that lands on our plate. Labeling of farmed vs. wild-caught and import vs. domestic has helped direct seafood purchasing from both a wholesale and individual perspective. There is an increased awareness about locally caught product vs. those with more food miles; whether seafood was sustainably harvested; safety and health issues; and secondary impacts of fishing and gear on the environment and other non-targeted species.
Yet, despite these strides, the majority of the seafood that America eats is imported. In most cases, that fish is not held to the same level of scrutiny, sustainability and traceability required in the U.S. It’s estimated that $23.5 billion worth of fish enter the world market each year from illegal fishing – perhaps 1 in 5 fish caught in the wild. In some regions, as much as 40 percent of the catch is thought to be illegal.