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Shocking Seafood Fraud – Half of sushi in L.A. restaurants mislabelled

seafood fraud sushi

Our readers care about their own health, protecting our oceans, and getting what they pay for. These are three things that seafood fraud threatens. A recent study published by UCLA and Loyola Marymount University shows that the situation is more dire than we ever could have thought. While our tastebuds and eyes may be fooled, DNA analysis is much harder to trick. Roughly half of the sushi tested was mislabeled.

Halibut and red snapper are the two most fraudulently mislabeled fish. The researchers say that seafood fraud is not only constrained to restaurants, and that even purchasing fish from the grocery store can result in going home with a different species. When you look at the high prices that halibut commands, you can see how those engaging in fraudulent behavior are profiting immensely. Flounder is often replaced.

In the study, interestingly enough salmon and tuna were less often mislabeled. There are a few possible reasons for this. Is it more difficult to pass off other fish for salmon and tuna, because of the distinct flavors and colors? Or are these species more highly regulated? The Pacific fishing industry, for instance, is a highly regulated industry which is part of the Catch Certification Program.

It is a sad state of affairs when “almost always” getting what you pay for is in the upper echelon of reliability, but that is exactly where tuna is. While bluefin tuna was always exactly as ordered, yellowfin tuna was occasionally swapped for the at-risk bigeye tuna. Those of us who research ethical seafood choices before eating sushi are losing our autonomy of choice, swindled into dining on at-risk species. This shows an even darker side to sushi mislabeling. Where in some cases it is simply a matter of tricking customers to get a bigger profit, mislabeling at risk species is a way to get around environmental regulations.

One thing is clear. The program that we recently reported on, Seafood Import Monitoring Program is needed more now than ever before. People deserve to know what they are paying for. People deserve to be able to make ethical buying choices.

What is the solution to this problem? One solution would be to rely on both corporate responsibility which would allow consumers to respond with their wallets. While in most situations it is naive to rely on the well- being of corporations, the restaurant industry is one where consumers are very picky. A voluntary program where DNA testing is done on shipments, which in return would allow the restaurant to be certified as trustworthy, could sway the tide. Another option would be for more stringent government regulation, and increased programs like the Seafood Import Monitoring Program.

What do you think can be done about Seafood Mislabeling? We would love to hear your opinion in the comments below. Do you think you’ve ever been served mislabeled fish?

Newly announced Seafood Import Monitoring Program to hit IUU fishing where it hurts

The newly announced Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) will offer increased protections to consumers and the environment by cracking down on unverifiable seafood products imported into the US. Seafood imports into the US have been growing yearly, and with higher levels of import come more opportunities for seafood fraud and illegally caught seafood to enter the country.

fight sushi mislabelling

The goal of SIMP is to hit illegal fishing where it hurts – in the pocketbook. By increasing identification standards, it will be more difficult for illegally fished and misidentified seafood to hit the US market. The new program is possible because of the Executive Order in 2014–Streamlining the Export/Import Process for America’s Businesses by President Obama. This program came into being partially to stop instances of seafood fraud by mislabeling which have been widely reported.

As the project is still in its early stages, it is uncertain how exactly it will work when compared to other international programs such as the Catch Certification Program which is used by both the EU and Canada.

SIMP will start with high value fish such as tuna and swordfish, later expanding to other species.

GreenWave’s revolutionary sustainable fishing practices

How many Green Wave farms does it take to feed the world?

GreenWave’s sustainable fishing practices will make you question your place in the food system. By choosing seafood that is sourced in sustainable manners, we protect our oceans for the future. By choosing 3d renewable farms, we do not just protect food stocks. We protect communities, fight climate change, and contribute to the crowd sourced revolution.

Brandon Smith, executive director of GreenWave says that if they had their farms covering an area as large of Washington state, they could feed the entire world. And it wouldn’t be for a year. They could feed humanity for the rest of time. Because GreenWave does not rely on harvesting dwindling food stocks. And that is the core of how they are shaping our entire understanding of sustainable fishing practices. Their farms replenish. What exactly is the GreenWave organization and why are they changing the way we look at sustainable fishing practices?

Sustainable fishing practices built from the ocean floor up

In 2015, GreenWave earned the Buckminster Prize. This prize was awarded not just for their environmental work, but because of the scalability of their design. That is important. This organization has been around for just under a year, and they are spreading like wildfire. But instead of destroying, they are creating. GreenWave is building up speed, with 16 farms either in production or in the setup phase.

What makes a GreenWave farm so special?

See for your self. The 3d farms are amazing.

Imagine an underwater garden. Hurricane proof, roped in, with kelp growing vertically up and down. Scallops and muscles grow, and below them oysters. On the ocean floor itself are clams. Making the shift from fishing to 3d ocean farming is one of the most influential sustainable fishing practices there is.

The underwater gardens, called restorative farms, are everything anyone concerned with sustainable fishing practices and global warming. They are changing the way we look at sustainable fishing practices as a way to grow and harvest rather than to take from at risk fish stocks. Brandon Smith, executive director of GreenWave used to be part of the fishing industry that he now views as destructive. He is a testament to how one person changing their identity can influence the world.

How do these farms fight climate change? One word. Kelp. The kelp soaks up carbon, and instead of our eating habits destroying the environment, we can help restore it. Kelp is incredibly efficient at absorbing carbon. Compared to land based plants, it works five times faster.

Open sourced sustainable fishing

If you read our article on the incredible Global Fishing Watch which allows anyone with an internet connection to “fight illegal fishing”, you know there is a trend to crowdsourcing sustainability in the seafood industry. GreenWave was not build to make money. It is a non-profit that is sharing the tools to create restorative farms around the world.

Anyone with 20 acres and boat can create one of these farms. They are designed to train and create people who can go forward.

The longterm plan: GreenWave reefs

GreenWave is steadily growing. And when people work together, great things happen. 25-50 farms supported by land based infrastructure transforming the way we look at sustainable seafood practices.

How sustainable fishing practices create jobs

GreenWave does not exist to make a profit. But the fact that their farms are made to be easily replicated means there is profit – for anyone who makes one of these farms. They are an investment that require very little skill or money to set up, and they will replenish and renew every year. This creates jobs as people farm and manage the farms.

The longterm plan of the GreenWave reefs are where things get very interesting in terms of the positive effect on local communities. When enough farmers work together to set up 25-50 farms, they create a GreenWave reef. This creates a seafood hub. GreenWave is not just involved with farms, and have actually create a restorative hatchery. But it does not just create jobs. It protects the communities from storms, like they were protected before unsustainable fishing practices depleted the natural reef systems.

Only time will tell if the GreenWave model is strong enough to grow exponentially. If it does, investment money is going to pour in.

Sustainable seafood farming means no fertilizers or antibiotics

These farms are resilient. They require no input. Once you have created the farm, it is self-sustaining. That means no antibiotics or fertilizer. These farms are not off-limits for those that do not own them. The way 3d ocean farming works, people can still enjoy the space, boating around the farms without problem.

We wish the best of luck to GreenWave and their impact of sustainable fishing practices

GreenWave has had some explosive growth for such a new organization. That usually means they have a very solid idea with a lot of demand. We sincerely hope that they are able to continue in their success and grow their dreams into reality. It’s time to stop hearing news about coral reefs dying and start hearing news about GreenWave reefs being born. It’s time to change the way we look at sustainable fishing practices.

Sushi made from crickets? Miya Sushi takes sustainability to the next level

I never thought I would see anything like this. I’ve seen spam sushi, rainbow sushi, even sushi donuts, but nothing like this! Miya Sushi might just be way ahead of their time. Their crazy menu pushes the boundaries, and even the most adventurous restaurateurs may meet their match! The restaurant is created with an incredible message at its heart. Miya Sushi’s vision of the future is of a world where by 2150 we will find a sustainable balance with nature. That means eating less animals, humane farming practices, and a celebration of the planet we live on. It also means a focus on foods that have the smallest impact on their environments, and fighting invasive species by eating them!

This cricket sushi roll pushes culinary boundaries

Even the most adventurous eater is going to be shocked by some of the dishes. The Crickleberry Brie sushi is chock filled with protein – from an outlandish source. Crickets!


Images are property of Miya Sushi 🙂

When you compare the ecological impact of farming cows or other large livestock, the difference is outstanding. Bugs offer a highly economical protein alternative. High in nutritional value and filled to the brim with protein, some say that bug farming is going to be a major industry in the future. Bug farms take much less space than conventional farms.

Would you be willing to try the Crickleberry sushi? Or is it simply too far out to even taste? I’m not sure if I would like it, but I would be willing to try! I mean, really, is it so different to eat escargot? Why are some bugs considered delicious and others disgusting? Having an open mind when it comes to food is important. But even an open minded eater might have trouble with cricket sushi!

Sushi made from invasive species

Some sushi restaurants serve seafood that have sustainability concerns. Miya Sushi does the opposite. Head Chef Bun Lai is an expert in turning invasive species into delicious dishes. What do you do when you are faced with invasive species? You eat them!


Miya Sushi has an entire section of the menu dedicated to Invasive Species. Mugwort, knotweed, and various other weeds are all invasive plants that chef Bun Lai has managed to turn into incredible creations. And that’s not all. In addition to plants, chef Bun Lai uses invasive seafood expertly. Sashimi options include nine-spice invasive asian carp sashimi and kiribati sashimi, which uses lionfish. The image above is of the carp sashimi. It is prepared using traditional methods, frozen in the same way that Inuit people continue to freeze carp based on their traditional methods. This chef can take any invasive species and make a dish out of it. Catfish is another invasive seafood which he pairs with asparagus, apricots, and black beans to create a truly wild dish.

Miya Sushi deconstructs the food chain

Currently, a third of wild caught fish is turned into fish feed for carnivorous fish. The concept of Miya Sushi is to go right to the bottom of the food chain and work upwards to find seafood that is both sustainable and has a low impact on the environment. This means specializing in herbivores such as catfish, tilapia, and carp.

When you eat fish at Miya Sushi, you can be sure you are making an ethical choice. Every ingredient in their cooking has been meticulously studied to see its effect in the broader environment. An example are their shrimp and prawn offerings. Instead of using wild caught tropical shrimp that have an extreme bycatch ratio, they use Florida shrimp and Alaskan spot prawns that have little to no impact in terms of bycatch.

Miya Sushi’s concepts haven’t hit the mainstream yet

While many consumers are becoming more concerned with sustainability and the ethics of the foods that they eat, the concepts of Miya Sushi have yet to become truly mainstream. While the head chef of Miya Sushi has specialized in turning invasive species into delicious dinners, most chefs are trained in more traditional recipes. It takes a huge amount of willpower and courage to create a restaurant as wild and unique as Miya Sushi. We wish them all the best in continuing to serve up tasty and sustainable dishes! If you are interested in sustainable sushi, you may be interested in reading our guide to eating sustainable sushi.. It doesn’t get much more sustainable than invasive species sushi!

Global Fishing Watch fights Illegal Fishing

global-fishing-watch-satelliteThe newest tool against unregulated and illegal fishing is incredible. Oceana, Skytruth and Google Earth Outreach worked together to create the Global Fishing Watch.

The beta version of the site is now open to the public, and you can quickly and easily create an account and start using the program within seconds. What exactly is Global Fishing Watch? Think crowdsourced protection of the oceans. Global Fishing Watch is a massive step towards fighting illegal fishing.

Global Fishing Watch lets anyone help against illegal fishing

The program is still in its beta version. But as it grows, it learns. The Global Fishing Watch AI system is learning everyday what behaviors are linked with unregulated, illegal, and suspicious fishing practices. This is because of their state of the art AI system which is becoming scarily accurate in determining what vessels are doing in the open oceans. The program uses “Machine Learning” at a global scale. It learns from its mistakes and the algorithm becomes more and more accurate as the program goes on. Everytime that a user submits data, the program grows smarter.

Remember, this program is just getting started. While there are already benefits being found, the program is only going to get more accurate and useful. Illegal fishing will become more and more difficult over time.

If you have an internet connection, you can be a part of this program.

This is the most effective tool available right now to track commercial vessels. Anyone with a computer and an internet connection can watch over protected areas and illegal fishing zones and track vessel activities. That’s not all. The program is completely free to use. Everyone can be a part of fighting against illegal fishing.

Global Fishing Watch is not just about stopping illegal fishing

One of the main priorities of the Global Fishing Watch program is to help raise awareness of the level of fishing happening in our oceans. We can imagine that there are many fishing vessels, but before you actually see a heat map of what is happening, you cannot quite comprehend the scope of the issue. When you take a look at a map for an 8 hour time period, you see vast swathes of blue. It is easy to think that overfishing is not a problem at all. When you look at the full two years of data, a different picture is painted. Check out the comparison below.

8 hours of data


2 years of data

Illegal Fishing

Global Fishing Watch is a powerful tool for smaller nations

What do you do if you are a smaller, developing nation and fishing vessels from a more powerful country are illegally fishing in your oceans? Proving that unregulated fishing is happening is the first step, and often incredibly difficult. Global Fishing Watch is partnering with local governments to give them the tools they need to start protecting their waters. There are thousands of small vessels that dart in and out of waters, and before Global Fishing Watch it was impossible to track them all. Now, through the power of crowdsourcing and the combined efforts of scientists, conservation groups and people like you and me, the balance of power is shifting.

Have you heard of the island nation of Kiribati? The nation suspected a company of violating their off-limits zone. While they had suspicions, they lacked concrete proof. That is until the Global Fishing Watch stepped in. The imagery that the program provided was rock solid proof that the vessel had been illegally fishing. The outcome? A $2 million dollar penalty that never would have happened without this incredible tool. Illegal fishing will become more difficult the more tools that smaller nations have to protect their waters.

Will the Global Fishing Watch end illegal fishing?

The Global Fishing Watch uses AIS data to track ship movement. AIS stands for automatic identification system. Smaller vessels are not required to use it. Pirate fishing vessels simply will not use it at all. What the Global Fishing Watch program is best for is stopping large scale commercial fishing in unethical and illegal ways. For example, if a massive fishing vessel is transmitting and then suddenly turns off transmission as they enter a protected zone? Suspicious! If a vessel turns off their transmission as they go through a risky area with a history of piracy? Not nearly as suspicious, as they are most likely not wanting to broadcast their location to nefarious parties.

If there are trends in certain companies purchasing seafood from suspicious vessels, consumers may realize they are potentially buying illegal seafood. No company wants that reputation. One of the keys to the long term of success of the Global Fishing Watch will be consumer pressure against shady tactics.

Global Fishing Watch is the product of many different groups

It is not just Google, Oceana and Skytruth that are making this program happen. These three are the biggest players in the project, however. If you have not heard of Ocean and Skytruth, they are two major organizations promoting sustainability in the seafood industry. Oceana is a massive international advocacy organization that is working towards one goal. Conserving the ocean. SkyTruth is a nonprofit who’s technology in remote sensing and digital mapping allowed the Global Fishing Watch program to flourish. Everyone has heard of Google. What people may not have heard of is Google Earth Outreach. It is one of Google’s many arms, and has found successes helping clear landmines in countries that have histories of war as well as giving the tools to small tribes to protect their traditional lands.

The Global Fishing Watch could not have come this far without the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, Marisla Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Wyss Foundation, The Waterloo Foundation and Adessium Foundation. All of these foundations and charities are working towards a future where IUU fishing is cracked down on, hard.


Voluntary agreement by major companies will protect Arctic Waters

Corporate Responsiblity Arctic Fishing

McDonald’s, Tesco, Sainsbury, Marks and Spencer, Asda, Morrisons, Youns Seafood, Birds Eye, Espersen, Karat, and Fiskebat are major players in the cod industry. They are responsible for supplying and purchasing huge volumes of the species, and their business practices have an enormous effect on whether or not the species and its habitats will be protected or over-exploited. Fishing fleets are expanding territories to obtain the most economical catch as possible, putting new areas at risk.

A key area of Arctic waters between Greenland, Russia and Norway is the great benefactor of the agreement which will prevent expansion into the area. These waters have not yet undergone significant fishing and are currently undergoing a research effort to learn how to properly exploit the resources of the waters without causing undue harm to the environment and the cod within its boundaries. It isn’t just cod that is going to benefit from the agreement. Bottom trawlers, used to fish cod, can cause damage to other species, and with the lack of research into the area the true cost of these fishing methods is not fully understood in the region.

While you may not be familiar with all of the signatories, this is good progress for protecting cod populations. Fiskebat, for instance, represents all registered fishing vessels in Norway. Corporate responsibility paired with informed consumption is a powerful force towards exploiting the bounties of the sea responsibly.

How can you do your part? Continue making informed choices. The more that consumers show their preference for certified seafood, the more the market will respond.

Sustainability in the Supplement industry – Norwegian San Omega achieves FoS Certification

San Omega receives

It’s easy to tell where your seafood comes from. If you buy it fresh, you can ask your fishmonger or read the packaging. If you buy it preserved, the label will tell you where it was caught.

Fish oil supplements are a little bit trickier. When you buy fish oil in liquid or capsule form, you might scratch your head at the label. Even if you go to the manufacturers websites, it can be difficult to know where the seafood is sourced and how it was caught. I slogged my way though multiple different omega 3 fish oil websites only to find rather vague information on where exactly the fish oil came from. The supplement industry has always been a bit like the “wild west” in the fitness industry, and that same attitude seems to prevalent among fish oil vendors as well. So how can you make ethical choices when it comes to your omega 3 supplements? One way you can ensure you are buying sustainable products is to purchase from companies who have attained certification.

Friend of the Sea (FoS) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to conserving marine habitats and to educating consumers towards ethical seafood choices. Recently, San Omega, a Norwegian oil company which uses wild caught sardines, mackerels, and anchovies has recently achieved FoS status for their line of fish oils. This means that their fisheries are strictly managed to sustainability criteria, source only from stocks which have not been over exploited, and are limited in the fishing methods that they use. Currently, San Omega sourcing is both certified under FoS and IFFO (The Marine Ingredients Organization).

At Sushifaq, we want to say bravo to San Omega for showing how supplement companies can source ingredients in an ethical, sustainable way. It is so critical to the conservation of ocean life for consumers to be able to make informed, ethical choices, and proper certification in the supplement and omega three oil business is essential to that process.

Sustainable Seafood at McDonalds and Wal-Mart?

sustainable seafood

Sustainable Seafood

A few days ago McDonald’s announced that, under an agreement with the Marine Stewardship Council, they would be serving sustainable seafood in their fish sandwiches in Europe soon. While I have never been a fan of processed food and corporations who value profits over people, this is certainly a step in the right direction. Europeans are, by nature, much more concerned than Americans about food sustainability and other environmental issues, hence the pilot program for sustainable seafood beginning there. It would be nice if the idea caught on and spread globally to all restaurants, including sushi restaurants, as with some pelagic species being fished to near extinction, following a program of sustainable seafood may be the only way to keep sushi and other seafood dishes on our plates.

Interestingly, Wal-Mart also has a plan to require all if it’s seafood suppliers to their stores, as well as their Sam’s Club stores, to obtain certification from the MSC for their products, and Costco, Korger, and Supervalu are also jumping on the bandwagon. While this is a pleasant step in the right direction for sustainable seafood, many organizations take issue with the MSC and their certification practices, as they still allow certain types of seafood harvesting including trawling of the seafloor, which is very destructive, and there are some venues that refuse to work with them due to their allowing certain practices to remain in place, which can destroy the seabeds, even if catches are limited and monitored.

Ultimately, while this seems like a good idea for corporate interests, and possibly for the longevity of the many pelagic species, this is just a blip in the radar in the drive for sustainable seafood. It’s great marketing for the aforementioned corporations, though. If we want to save our most revered seafood species, the onus is truly on the consumer as our seafood choices are more important than we realize. If we continue to eat threatened species, they will be with us no longer, so the only way change will ever happen is is we vote with our wallets and refuse to eat the fish that are considered endangered.

Sustainable seafood is not an impossible dream, and organizations such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium are working to educate consumers as to which seafood choices are the best to make when fish is on the menu. Wild caught, fish farming, and conservation are among the many topics that must be continually reviewed to determine the sustainability of the seafood market, and if future generations want to enjoy sushi, a sea change is needed in the way we view our ocean herds. Make a difference yourself when you go out for sushi and educate yourself to ensure that you are part of the sustainable seafood solution, rather than part of the problem.

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