Filed Under: Seafood

Fish Under Fire

Seafood is under attack on a number of fronts, as activists lay the bait of deception to reel in consumers and force them to change the way they eat:

“If Alaska Senator Ted Stevens has his way, all seafood sold in U.S. supermarkets will carry new labeling indicating whether the fish or shellfish is farm-raised or wild-caught,” WorldCatch News Network reports. According to the National Fisheries Institute, such labels “convey no unique health or safety information to consumers.”

While Stevens is motivated primarily by a desire to, in the words of one Senate staffer, “raise the awareness of Alaska seafood,” some activists want to get rid of fish farms altogether. The Compassion in World Farming Trust insists that such farms are cruel to fish, citing “widespread fin and tail injuries” and even cataracts. It may sound silly, but the group must be taken seriously: It’s forced new regulations on livestock in Europe, and is now eyeing North American seafood as its next target.

And in California, genetically improved fish are under fire from the Ocean Conservancy (formerly the Center for Marine Conservation). In what the group calls “a preemptive strike,” activists are backing state legislation to prohibit any genetically improved fish from entering the state or bear special labeling when sold. But not everyone agrees with the plan. The executive director of the California Aquaculture Association notes that fish species cross-breed in nature. “There could be many social benefits in having some form of genetic engineering,” he says.

These are the latest small steps in the same anti-seafood campaign that now makes it impossible for many restaurant patrons to get Chilean sea bass, that threatened swordfish a few years ago, and that could force consumers to pay up to 20 percent more for fish.

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