Something Fishy Is Going on

In Current Events, Maps101 by


Red Snapper are commonly mislabeled. Here the fish is on ice for sale in New Jersey.

A recent report from shines a critical light on the seafood industry. According to their study, much of the fish for sale to consumers or available in restaurants is mislabeled. In other words, people are getting the wrong kind of fish. Often, the advertised fish is a more expensive type, although investigators do not go so far as to claim the mislabeling is deliberate deception.

There are three main problems that result from the mislabeling of fish.


First, the levels of mercury in some forms of fish are considered too high, especially for some members of the population, such as women who are pregnant. Consumers may accidentally eat fish with high mercury content, believing they are eating safe fish. Use this chart to learn which are the safest species of fish to eat.


Another problem is cost. Some fish varieties are far more expensive than others. Often, the mislabeled fish is really an inexpensive fish masquerading as one that is far more expensive. As a result, consumers are paying more but not getting what they paid for.

Species Loss

Mislabeling can also harm protected stocks of fish. Some threatened or endangered species are illegally caught and then sent to market under another name. The end result of such activity may be the extinction of some dwindling species.

Read more about this consumer issue from both TIME and The Atlantic magazine. In addition, learn more about how mislabeling affects fish stocks from National Geographic.

Red Snapper Image: Tomwsulcer
Red Snapper Image License: Creative Commons 1.0/Public Domain