On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced new efforts by the Obama Administration to cut down on overfishing and illegal fishing, which are severely depleting populations of marine species around the world.
“We need to double down on stopping illegal fishing, which has grown into at least a $10 billion-a-year industry,” Kerry said. “We have to make illegal fishing harder and more expensive to get away with. And the way to do that is with more vigorous enforcement that puts as many thugs as possible behind bars.”
Kerry spoke at the international Our Oceans conference in Chile. But the phenomena he described – including deception and fraud in the sale of seafood – is also common here in the Chesapeake Bay region.
Earlier this year, the nonprofit organization Oceana used DNA testing to examine the true origins of a food that is central to the identity of Maryland: crab cakes. Oceana bought 90 crab cakes that were described as “Chesapeake blue crab” from 86 different restaurants in Maryland – and found that 38 percent of them were mislabeled.
In Baltimore and Annapolis, almost half of the crab cakes were actually made from species of crabs from Asia – most often, the Indo-Pacific blue swimming crabs that were likely caught in places like Indonesia or the Philippines.