Dead Fish in a Box

The chronicles of a suburban fishpimp trying to keep it rural.

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Location: United States

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Fish-cal Policy

You might have missed it. A year or two ago Congress passed the COOL Act. Don't worry, it doesn't mean that we all have to act cool, it stands for "Country of Origin Listing". It states that all Meat, Poultry, Produce, Seafood, & Peanuts (of all things) must be labeled at the retail level with the country of origin and whether it’s farmed or wild. . Except the beef industry lobbied and received a 2 year reprieve, so did produce and peanuts. Poultry got out of the bill all together. But not Seafood. It’s a very extensive process, and it’s a big deal: every single bit of fish has to be tracked like a Fed-ex package. It's going to cost the Seafood industry an estimated $4,500,000,000. We’re gonna have to pay people to slap bar codes on the salmon.

The price of your fish is going to go up.

Any violation carries a $10,000 fine per item, per store, per day. That means if a small grocery chain with 8 stores gets mis-labeled product, or cannot produce proper documentation, it could mean up to $80,000 per item per day. One bad day could wipe out six months of profit.

To what benefit? The consumer? Do you really care if your delicious Black Tiger Prawns are from India or the Philippines? Or that the Steelhead is from Saskatchewan? Do the Alaskan salmon fishermen really benefit? Their product is too expensive for most of us 8 months out of the year, so do we need Congress to increase demand for that fish – can we afford to pay $25/lb for Salmon in the winter?

Your tax dollars at work.