A 2015 report by the Congressional Research Service indicates that the level of fraud can be significant [2]. Illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing is a major contributor to the problem of seafood fraud. Results from worldwide Oceana studies show that seafood mislabeling across 55 countries can be as high as 82% in the supply chain [3]. The IUU fishing accounts for 20% of the global catch and contributes to economic losses of $10-23 billion, while threatening 260 million jobs that depend on marine fisheries around the world [4]. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the prevalence of IUU fishing has doubled in the last decade, especially among highly valued species, leading to seafood fraud and “threatening fishing economies, seafood consumers and vulnerable marine species on a global scale.” 

  • MMI is developing an advanced fish species authentication test (FDAT) to support large scale seafood distributors as well as established restaurant chains. Improving fisheries management with an accurate, low cost, high throughput fish authentication tool will be an important innovation.
  • A key advantage is that this technology uses species-specific gene markers that are uniquely designed in a multiplex assay to identify many closely related species in a single test.
  • In contrast to current DNA bar-coding approaches, our test allows vendors and customers to receive faster, reliable results before making a purchase or sale in real-time. This technology provides a state of the art laboratory test to combat seafood fraud, thus creating more confidence in the seafood supply chain.


According to the FDA, “Economic Deception of Fraud in the sale of seafood occurs when a less expensive species is substituted for a more expensive-species.”[5] Seafood is required to be labeled in a manner that is truthful and not misleading. 

An important aspect of truthful labeling is identifying seafood species by their acceptable market names. The FDA developed The Seafood List to assist those working in the industry to understand what the FDA considers to be “acceptable market names for seafood sold in interstate commerce.” [6] The fish that have been targeted to be at the highest risk for mislabeling include: cod, hake, haddock, pollock, catfish, snapper and grouper. 





​1. FAO Market Report. 2016. Global seafood trade expansion slows despite continuing production growth http://www.fao.org/in-action/globefish/market-reports/resource-detail/en/c/887756/.
2. Seafood Fraud. Congressional Research Service. April 7, 2015.  nationalaglawcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/assets/crs/RL34124.pdf
3. http://usa.oceana.org/seafood-fraud/2016-global-reach-seafood-fraud.
4. Illegal Fishing Fuels Fraud. https://www.vitalchoice.com/shop/pc/articlesView.asp?id=2035[5] Seafood Species Substitution & Economic

5. Fraud www.fda.gov/Food/FoodScienceResearch/RFE/ucm071528.htm
6. The Seafood List www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/guidancedocumentsregulatoryinformation/seafood/ucm113260.htm


​In the worldwide food economy, there is a critical need to optimize the current technology to reduce seafood fraud, prevent widespread mislabeling, and protect public health. The worldwide seafood trade is valued at approximately $140 billion and demand is growing, and the ground fish market constitutes a third of this market [1]. Seafood is a global commodity. More than 90% of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported, and less than 1% is inspected by the government specifically for fraud. As a result, international wholesale seafood facilities that process a high volume of commercial fish have a significant interest in developing improved authentication technology.


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Growth of the Global Fresh Fish & Seafood Market by Volume 2015-2020 (millions of tons) 

Natural History Museum, University of Oslo