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Where did my fish come from

Updated on November 11, 2015
US Crawfish are safe and delicious
US Crawfish are safe and delicious | Source

Imported seafood from China

Where did my fish come from

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, half of our seafood comes from aquaculture such as fish farms and approximately 84 percent of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported. Of that, 21 percent comes from China, and much of the rest from other developing countries in Asia and Latin America. If we look at the whole scope of food that we eat in America, we only import 13 percent of the food we consume. Seafood stands out and deserves to be investigated for safety to both the environment and us. In spite of the drumbeat to defund the oversight agencies of government, at least so far, we do a fairly good job of policing our native food supply. But, of the vast amounts of seafood we import, the FDA inspects and tests less than 1 percent of it. While the FDA inspects just 2 percent of seafood imports, the European Union physically inspects 20 percent of fresh, frozen, dried and salted fish and 50 percent of clams and similar shellfish. Japan physically inspected 12 percent of fresh seafood and 21 percent of processed seafood in 2005. Now can we all join the cause and defund that terrible government agency the evil FDA? On the other hand, would we like some control over what we eat?

What about genetically engineered Frankenfish on your plate tonight? Sounds delish, no?

In an email on 2/16/2012 from from Eric Schlosser, the author of Fast Food Nation, and Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Stonyfield Farms: .

The FDA is on the brink of approving genetically engineered salmon for human consumption. This would be the first genetically engineered animal on supermarket shelves in the United States.

The salmon is engineered to produce growth hormones year-round that cause the fish to grow at twice the normal rate. The government already requires labels to tell us if fish is wild-caught or farm-raised—don't we also have a right to know if our salmon is genetically engineered? Without labels, we'll never know.
More than forty countries, including Russia and China, already require labels on genetically engineered foods

SignOn and tell the FDA not to approve Frankenfish

Seafood Fraud

Is anything being done to combat the overwhelming amount of seafood fraud. Oceana, founded in 2001, is the largest international organization focused solely on ocean conservation and they have a long standing program fighting seafood fraud.


to get involved and learn about how we are being fooled, our oceans are being harmed and our health endangered.

Chinese Fish Farm


300 Ports and 90 inspectors

We have 300 ports where food can enter the country, when the FDA was fully funded; they had inspectors at only 90 of those ports. Budget constraints and Republican defunding efforts mean that even fewer ports have inspectors today. Importers use a tactic called “Port Shopping” If a shipment of seafood is rejected at an inspected port it is simply sent to a port that in not inspected. What about the shipment that was rejected? It could be on your plate tonight. A quick rinse with chlorinated water will get rid of that unprofitable rotten fish smell, and if it was raised with chemicals banned in the US, well, you’ll never know, unless it makes you ill, but then you’ll never be able to know what made you ill. The FDA, has turned away catfish from China because it found traces of veterinary drugs; swordfish from Vietnam because it was poisonous; and snapper from Malaysia because it was filthy.

Do we really want to eat fish from a farm in China? How about Panama? There is considerable evidence that seafood imports from China pose significant safety risks. In June 2007, the FDA put five types of farmed-raised fish and seafood from China under a “detain and test” order, due to repeated findings that the fish contained chemicals banned from seafood in the United States. The FDA lacks the power to force a recall of food, even when it makes someone sick. They must ask the distributor to recall the product. Maybe they should say “Pretty Please?” If you but your seafood in a major supermarket you do have some options. Major retailers are expected, under the COO (Country Of Origin) rule to have the country of origin written on the label. Often the label lists the processing country rather than where it is caught.. Fish markets are exempt and I suppose cheats are exempt too, with little oversight to be worried about. Country of origin labeling was mandated by the 2002 Farm Bill, and it was allowed to go into effect for fish in 2004.

Alabama is an interesting case to mention. Alabama relies less on the Federal government to inspect their seafood and they inspect their own imports. Now before you jump on the State’s Rights campaign you should recognize that your state might not want to spend the money on inspectors and leave you on your own. Back to Alabama, Alabama rejects 50 percent to 60 percent of all fish imports.
“I don’t think people have any idea how much imported seafood’s coming into this country,” said Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture Ron Sparks. “If it’s from a foreign country, I’d be very cautious. I wouldn’t eat it.”

Alright, so I avoid imported seafood, is it safe to eat what I see in the case? The answer depends on what you want. Recent studies by researchers in North America and Europe using new genetic techniques have found that 20 to 25 percent of the seafood products they check are fraudulently identified. Tilapia may be the ultimate character actor of seafood, it has been found under more different names than any other kind of fish. Tilapia is sweet and mild with little fishy flavor so it is the perfect stand-in for more expensive fish.
Trying to avoid eating endangered fish is also an uncertain endeavor. When an unscrupulous company catches endangered fish all they need to do is fraudulently label it as something else. We end up eating them and pushing entire species closer to extinction.

Grouper gets a guarantee

At last there is a glimmer of hope.

"Fish fraud fighters have a new weapon against illegal seafood substitutions that rip off restaurants"

The university of South Florida has developed an electronic sensor, named the QuadPyre RT-NASBA, that is able to "sniff out" and tell you when a piece of fish is being mis-identified.

Choose wild Alaskan salmon for a taste treat and and no genetic modification
Choose wild Alaskan salmon for a taste treat and and no genetic modification
Tilapia from Ethiopia. This is the way of the future but avoid fish from China and Latin America
Tilapia from Ethiopia. This is the way of the future but avoid fish from China and Latin America | Source

What can I eat that is safe and does not damage the planet?

It is easier to find the problems with our seafood supply than it is to find the fisheries that supply us with healthful fish that are not doing harm to us or to the planet. The first rule is to avoid seafood that is imported.
These fish are generally considered safe and environmentally friendly

Tilapia , (U.S. farmed) tilapia is rapidly becoming the most important farm raised fish on the planet, unfortunately 95percent of our tilapia is imported. If you can find tilapia raised in the US, go for it but don’t kid yourself about the health benefits. Tilapia has a tiny amount of the omega 3 fatty acids that nutritionists recommend we consume. Eat domestic tilapia for low fat protein, not omega 3s.
Catfish, (U.S. farmed)
Arctic char (U.S. farmed)
(U.S. farmed)
Crawfish (U.S.)
Halibut - Pacific (wild Alaska)
Oysters (U.S. farmed)
Mackerel – (wild Atlantic)
Mahimahi (U.S. wild Atlantic)
Sablefish/black cod (wild Alaska)
Shrimp – (U.S. farmed)
Striped bass (U.S.farmed)
Sturgeon (U.S. farmed)
Salmon, wild salmon is the tops as far as omega 3s but most salmon are either threatened or endangered. So far, the best salmon to eat, both for flavor and health benefits is wild Alaskan salmon, you will pay a premium but it is worth the extra money. Avoid the salmon listed below as well as farmed salmon
Scallops, Bay Farmed. Most bay scallops come from China but farm practices are acceptable, use caution
Tuna (U.S.wild caught) albacore or yellowfin, troll/pole or handline-caught only

Endangered Fish: Do not eat these fish!

· Atlantic salmon: Endangered in parts of Maine.

· Chinook salmon: Endangered in parts of Washington and California; threatened in parts of Washington, California, and Idaho.

· Coho salmon: Endangered in parts of California; threatened in parts of Oregon, California, and the Lower Columbia River.

· Sockeye salmon: Endangered in parts of Idaho; threatened in parts of Washington.

· Chum salmon: Threatened in parts of Oregon and Washington.

· Cherry salmon: A subspecies of cherry salmon (Formosan land-locked salmon) is critically endangered; it is one of the rarest fish in the world.

· Bluefin Tuna, Severely overfished for Sushi, bluefin has not been put on the US endangered list

· Monkfish? (US wild Atlantic) are still on the endangered species list but are thought to be recovering

· Chilean Seabass Overfished and misnamed

· Flounder and sole, Atlantic wild caught are endangered, Pacific Halibut and Dover Sole are still okay to eat

· Shrimp, avoid all imported shrimp due to farming practices

· Sea Scallops, most scallops come from China but sea scallops are dredged which damages the ocean floor

A more complete list of endangered seafood may be found at

Keep in mind that this is a government list and politics gets involved with the result that some species that need protection are not on the list.


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    • chefsref profile image

      Lee Raynor 2 years ago from Citra Florida

      Thanx Zaton

      Yes after 40 years in the restaurant business we are subject to the same issues as the general public. However, If you are near the coast and find a restaurant that deals with the fishermen you can find some wonderful food.

      In any event I avoid the problematic fish like tilapia and catfish unless I know where it came from

    • zaton profile image

      Zaton-Taran 2 years ago from California

      Maybe I shouldn't put so much faith in restaurants that serve seafood, then. I love the stuff, and used to assume that the FDA ensures that eateries will only serve good and healthy seafood (food codes and all that). It's a shame - can't be sure where stuff comes from these days.

    • chefsref profile image

      Lee Raynor 5 years ago from Citra Florida

      Thanx Cathy

      I don't think we will ever get an accurate answer from the FDA. Unfortunately for us, big business has more clout than consumers. The same thing is going on with Dow chemical seeking approval for 2,4-D herbicide for use on corn, soy and cotton. 2,4-D is half of Agent Orange and soon we will be eating it as well as Round Up as part of the diet.

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image

      Ms. Immortal 5 years ago from NJ

      FDA officials is leaning towards approval, saying that the salmon, which grows twice as fast as its conventional salmon is as safe to eat as the traditional variety.

      I would like to know how the FDA can back up a statement like this. What proof do they have to offer us?

    • profile image

      josh b 5 years ago

      wat is the fishes name ching shong? or lette dooe?

    • chefsref profile image

      Lee Raynor 5 years ago from Citra Florida

      Those remarks came from an ABC new report. To speak in generalities we should not be eating top of the food chain fish because those fish concentrate any toxins they eat in their flesh.

      I may have taken the info from this page

      BUT I don't have notes on my reference source. The story is around many places on the web for a Google search

    • profile image

      chris 5 years ago

      errmmm may i ask, when you said swordfish from vietnam is poisonous what kind of swordfish u talking about? and snapper from malaysia is filthy, what is filthy means?

    • chefsref profile image

      Lee Raynor 5 years ago from Citra Florida

      Thanx Wesman

      Yes sustainability is important but can't we raise this stuff here? I don't trust food coming from China.

      You're lucky to have all that catfish, I'm stuck with what I can find in the market. (but I make up for it by growing my own veggies)

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      I've a freezer full of channel and blue catfish! I'm heading right back to the special spot tomorrow around noon - I've no greater pleasure than eating what I have produced for the table myself.

      Tilapia may not be the best - but hey, it can be done up nice enough! Sure is better than ....over fishing things continually unto extinction, right?

    • chefsref profile image

      Lee Raynor 5 years ago from Citra Florida

      Thanx WD

      I agree with your point but stand by what I said in the article. To be clear, tilapia is the food fish of the future not because it is good but because it is easily raised and therefore cheap, thus we see more and more on the market. In my professional life I always tried to avoid selling tilapia but the cost of good seafood almost forces us to put this crap on our menus. Nowadays price trumps quality for the majority of the American public, unfortunately we are getting what we are willing to pay for.

      The idea of eating tilapia here in Florida is almost funny. We're surrounded by salt water yet we import fish from China. I guess we can wash it down with some nice orange juice imported from Brazil.

      So, Good Luck on that war on tilapia but you have an uphill struggle

    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 5 years ago from Space Coast

      I hate to rub your hub, but tilapia should not be regarded as the food fish of the future. We need to take it off the menu. It is an invasive exotic. It has more omega6 than bacon, so it is not heart healthy at all. You might as well feed donuts to your heart patient.

      Otherwise, this is a great hub with good information. Excuse me, but we are on a campaign against tilapia in the Florida conservation world. I had to do my duty.

    • chefsref profile image

      Lee Raynor 5 years ago from Citra Florida

      Thanx Wesman, yeah better buy it soon, the GMO crowd is pushing hard

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Outstanding hub!!! I'm especially pleased to read it because I thought that the GMO salmon was ALREADY being sold in the US. See, now I can go buy salmon again and be happy!

    • chefsref profile image

      Lee Raynor 5 years ago from Citra Florida


      I thought that was the point of the article, pointing out the amount of deception and outright fraud in the seafood industry. You could use the lists above to choose a species but we are all subject to the same deceptions.

    • profile image

      caelan 5 years ago

      dude i clicked on this website to see what countrey fishing came from. alwell better spend a million years finding the answer.

    • chefsref profile image

      Lee Raynor 5 years ago from Citra Florida

      Thanx Scott

      Why am I not surprised. At least someone was caught but that is the tip of the iceberg.

    • scottrights profile image

      scottrights 5 years ago from San Diego

    • chefsref profile image

      Lee Raynor 5 years ago from Citra Florida

      Thanx Scott

      There are issues with both farm raised and wild caught fish. Either one can be bad or good depending on circumstances. Add to that, the fraud that exists about naming fish and it becomes a crap shoot. We might need a rod and reel to know what we are eating. The more I research our food supply the more disturbing it becomes. Check out some of my other hubs about food.

    • scottrights profile image

      scottrights 5 years ago from San Diego

      Food, Inc., Corn King... both movies turned me on to something my wife has been telling me for years. She was right! I like fish, but we try to stay away from farm raised. I think the problem is the diet of what they are fed. Great article.

    • chefsref profile image

      Lee Raynor 5 years ago from Citra Florida

      Thanx Craig

      Yeah tilapia is the food fish of the future and the fraud fish right now. Supposed to be very easy to raise, even in a backyard pond, which begs the question, why do we have to import it from China?

    • profile image

      craig R 5 years ago

      I find it remarkable that a former fish sold to the Tropical fishkeepers back in the 70's has become an over priced food fish , The Tilapia....Over priced at 8 to 10 dollars a pound and recently some restaurants have been substituting Tilapia for Haddock and other white fleshed fish without informing their patrons.......

      Another good blog ......

      Craig R.

    • chefsref profile image

      Lee Raynor 5 years ago from Citra Florida

      Thanx Arshad

      Yes, the more I research our food supply the more dismayed I become. Please check some of my other hubs about the food supply, makes me want to give up eating.

    • ARSHAD MAJID profile image

      ARSHAD MAJID 5 years ago

      Thanks for posting such an informative article over a topic which has little research over it. Great article.