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National spotlight on seafood fraud


The President is trying to put some muscle in the fight against seafood fraud.

In a study last year by the nonprofit group Oceana, a third of the seafood tested was labeled as something else. Eighty-seven percent of samples labeled as snapper were some other kind of fish. And the group says 59 percent of the tuna sold in the US last year was mislabeled.

Now there's a Presidential task force to address the problem.

We're at Harbor Docks commercial seafood market in Destin, and this is the real deal, red snapper, just off the boat yesterday. You might think when you go to buy fresh seafood that this is always what you're getting. Think again.

Harbor Docks owner Charles Morgan says even here on the Gulf Coast, many chain restaurants are selling mislabeled seafood.

"If you think you're going to go to a restaurant and get a fried grouper sandwich for $7.95, good luck and God bless. 'Cause it's not what it's claimed to be," said Charles Morgan of Harbor Docks.

He  says 90 percent of the seafood sold in Florida this year will be imported. The non-profit group Oceana says often, imported tilapia is substituted for snapper.

 "It actually kind of hurts my feelings, because it gives the people, the fishermen and the species a bad name," said Tony Martin of Harbor Docks.

This week, President Obama announced the creation of a multi-agency task force to tackle seafood fraud. Oceana says the first step should be a system that tracks the entire supply chain.   

"The tilapia's coming in from countries that if you traveled there, your first warning will be don't drink the water. Well these are fish that are raised in water that nobody would drink," Morgan said.

Morgan says customers shouldn't hesitate to ask where their fish comes from and beware too good a deal.

"If a fish seems to be inexpensive, it's not the real deal. This stuff is expensive and it's not expensive enough. There are cows and pigs and chickens and they're going to keep on coming. This is one of the last wild proteins that exists in this country," Morgan said.

The Presidential task force has been told to come back with specific plans to fight fraud within six months.