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Fish Prices Dupe Customers Scammed by 'Bait and Switch' Seafood


A new report and infographic created by the environmental nonprofit group, Oceana, outlines issues with seafood sold in America, mainly inflated, fraudulent fish prices as a result of swapped selections.

According to the report [PDF], in what appears to be a rampant "bait and switch" practice where consumers are served cheaper fish marketed at higher fish prices, Americans are eating 50 percent more seafood than just 50 years ago, but may be paying significantly more for their seafood. "[W]hen red snapper is replaced with tilapia in a restaurant, diners may pay seven dollars more to eat tilapia than they otherwise would," cites the report. “Swapping a lower cost fish for a higher value one is like ordering a filet mignon and getting a hamburger instead,” said Margot Stiles, the report's author and Oceana senior scientist, in a press release. “If a consumer eats mislabeled fish even just once a week, they could be losing up to hundreds of dollars each year due to seafood fraud.”

More than 300 menus were reviewed from 12 cities to determine the fish prices, and whether or not consumers were paying an accurate market price. " Unfortunately, the only way for consumers to be truly confident in their seafood purchases is to require traceability of the supply chain, tracking every fish from boat to plate," the report states. "With more about seafood making it to consumers, they can make more informed purchases. The difficulties of finding transparent price information for this report highlight a glaring need for more information being available to retailers and the public from every step of the seafood supply chain."

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