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Seafood fraud: Ways to protect yourself from mislabeled fish

Fish are friends, not food. That may be true if you’re a shark in Finding Nemo but not for the thousands of people that trickle through Splash Cafe’s three restaurants on the Central Coast to eat their famous clam chowder.

“We serve over 150 gallons a day during the summer out of the Pismo Beach location; that’s why there’s always a line out around the corner,” General Manager of Splash Cafe, Derek Davis tells us.

Many diners these days seek out places that have local products but Davis says customers should be aware that local doesn’t always mean what they think. “In California, local actually means all the way from Northern California down to Baja, Mexico; so if you’re looking for fresh local yellow-fin, that could be caught in Baja, Mexico and shipped up here,” Davis explains.

A recent study by the ocean conservation group called “Oceana” found mislabeling of seafood – or seafood fraud – becoming a huge problem around the world. The study showed about 20% of the 25,000 seafood samples tested, were found to be mislabeled.

Davis says to always look for certain things on packaging before purchasing seafood. His supplier, Santa Monica Seafood writes very clearly on their boxes where their fish comes from. “You can trace [the fish] back to the farm, to the fishery where it came from, how long it’s been out of the water, a lot of things like that – customers just don’t know that that information is available,” Davis tells us.

To find out if the fish you’re eating is even in season, there’s an app for that. “I highly recommend [customers] to visit the Monterey Bay website and you can actually download an application right to your phone that will tell you what’s in season, what’s okay to be eating at this time, what’s certified for farming practices, and even restaurants closeby that use sustainable suppliers.

By planning ahead you can be a friend to the ocean while still enjoying eating it too.

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