In the past few years, US seafood imports have surged, but a new report shows that some of those fish caught from Chinese waters are not legally caught, but rather illegally harvested.
The report, published by the US Federal Trade Commission, is the first of its kind to show that fish caught off of US shores are actually being sold and used for the sake of profit.
“We believe there’s a serious lack of oversight and transparency in the process,” said FTC Commissioner Mary Schapiro.
The report comes after a number of other investigations that have identified some of the fish being sold as part of the catch.
In March, the agency said Chinese seafood processors were illegally harvesting hundreds of tons of fish from the Gulf of Mexico every day.
In April, US investigators discovered that Chinese shrimp processors were selling fish at higher prices than US prices, even though the shrimp were not caught at all.
And earlier this year, a California-based supplier of fish was caught selling hundreds of thousands of pounds of shrimp from a California shrimp farm that was owned by a Chinese company.
More recently, the FTC has been looking into allegations that Chinese fish processors were mislabeling their fish to hide the fact they were illegally harvested from US waters.
“These fish are not caught in the US, they’re being sold in China,” said Schapira.
We believe that the seafood industry should be held to the same standards as any other business, but the way that this is being conducted in China is totally inappropriate,” said Michael Vartanian, an attorney for the Center for Food Safety, a consumer advocacy group.
According to the FTC, the majority of the seafood caught in China are exported to Asian nations and then used for Chinese consumption.
But while seafood is often imported into the US illegally, a lot of it ends up being caught on US shores.
In 2016, the FDA caught about a billion pounds of fish in illegal fisheries, according to the report.
That figure includes the nearly a billion tons of shrimp caught in 2016, which is a far cry from the roughly 50 million pounds of US seafood caught that year.”
It’s not the way it’s supposed to work, and it’s not going to work in the future,” said Vartani.