Mexico fishing industry fraud revealed

A fraud revealed with fish in Mexico according to a study in fishmongers, restaurants and supermarkets in Cancun, Mazatlan and Mexico City. Photo: Mazatlan Mexico
A fraud revealed with fish in Mexico according to a study in fishmongers, restaurants and supermarkets in Cancun, Mazatlan and Mexico City. Photo: Mazatlan Mexico

Mexico's fishing industry fraudulent actions revealed with fish in Mexico according to a study in fishmongers, restaurants, and supermarkets in Cancun, Mazatlan, and Mexico City.

31% of the fish that Mexicans eat does not correspond to the name with which it is identified on the label, revealed the study "Gato X Liebre" of the Oceana organization, dedicated to the protection of the seas.

After genetically analyzing 376 samples of fish in fishmongers, restaurants, and supermarkets in Cancun, Mazatlan and Mexico City, it was concluded that the fish that is ingested is not equivalent to the name with which it is sold to the consumer.

During the presentation of the study, Renata Terrazas, director of transparency campaigns in Oceana Mexico, explained that in the Mexican capital there is a 34% substitution while in Mazatlan, the most important fishing port in Mexico, there is 31.5%. The resort of Cancun, in the Mexican Caribbean and chosen for the study due to its large tourist influx, records 26.5% of its replacement.

In general, it is observed that 16.5% of cheating happens in supermarkets. Fishmongers and restaurants attribute a higher percentage, with 36.5% and 33.5%, respectively. The remaining percentage occurs in other types of establishments not specified in the report.

The most substituted fish are marlin, very popular in tacos and toast, with 95% substitution, sawfish with 89% and grouper with 87%. This substitution of marine species is fundamentally based on economic interest since the difference in prices between what the consumer pays and what is actually brought to the mouth is significant.

The mere, for example, costs in Mexico 579 pesos per kilogram, a price much higher than the base, the fish that replaces it and that costs 91 pesos per kilogram. The same goes for the red snapper, 600 pesos per kilogram and its usual substitute, catfish, which sells for only 53 pesos per kilogram.

Also, the specialist pointed out that some of the species that replace what the consumer who is eating believes are threatened.

"Not only are we eating species on the red list, threatened or in some kind of danger, but some of them replaced others, and we did not even know that we were eating them."

According to Terrazas, it is a very complex issue to know in which part of the chain that unites fishing with final consumption negligence occurs.

"In some cases, it's in the restaurant, others in the fish market," said Pedro Zapata, vice president of Oceana in Mexico.

Nor can it be defined what place Mexico occupies in the world ranking of fish substitution, but according to the director it is within the average of the 55 countries in which Oceana has done this type of studies.

Terrazas urged the Mexican government to indicate on the labels what is being eaten much more accurately than it currently does. She also noted that digital technology is an effective way to "track the product from the boat to the plate".

"We have identified cases where it is feasible for fishermen to be able to generate that information."

The consequences of this fraudulent activity range from the well-being of fishermen, destabilizing prices, to harm to the health of marine ecosystems.

Some other actions to stop the problem would be to stop overfishing and incidental fishing, the one that hunts species even if they are not what they are looking for, and protect the key ecosystems for the reproduction of marine species.

by Agencies

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