News You Really Need To See: “Fish Imported to U.S. Was Often Caught Illegally, Study Finds”

“Fish Imported to U.S. Was Often Caught Illegally, Study Finds”

The Washington Post, April 21, 2014, p.A4

A new study that examined illegal and unreported marine harvests brought into the United States found that some fish shouldn’t be on U.S. tables.  Up to 32 percent of imported wild shrimp, crab, salmon, pollock, tuna and other catch is poached, according to the study.  Scientists are concerned about illegal fishing because the world’s oceans can barely sustain legal seafood harvests. … Earlier studies have shown that illegal and underreported fishing accounts for up to 31 percent of the world’s catch, but this study is the first to examine how much of it slips past the better-inspected ports of the United States. … U.S. inspectors are more concerned with the freshness of seafood and its potential impact on human health.  What gets by inspectors is valued in the study at $1.3 billion to $2.1 billion per year, a sum that encourages more illegal and unreported fishing, Pitcher said. …[F]ishing vessels and seafood processors rely on a shell game to deliver illegal and unreported catch to U.S. ports.  Ships fish at different spots on the high seas often for months at a time, using ‘transition vessels’ to taxi the catch to market while they keep trolling for fish.  Documentation of where the fish is caught is lax, the study found.  Many of the fish, crab, shrimp and other products are rushed to Chinese processing plants, where low-paid workers fillet salmon, clean the guts of tuna and pull meat from crabs.  Illegally caught fish are easily mixed at the plants with those that were caught legally.”

Quickie analysis:   With 85% of the world’s commercial seafood fisheries *legally* fished at or beyond their biological limit, this level of *illegal* fishing will crash the system, sending species below their biological limits to extinction.  The US medical establishment’s recommendation to “eat more seafood” is clearly at odds with the environment’s recommendation to eat less seafood.

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