Santa Barbara’s fishing community and other fishermen in California are saddled with some of the strictest harvest regulations in the world. The laws are designed to make sure this vital industry lasts and that Californians will continue to have local fish to eat for decades to come. As a consumer, I want to support the commitment that our local fishermen are making to that future. But I cannot find and buy local Santa Barbara fish unless they are labeled properly in stores and restaurants. More importantly, I can’t be sure I’m buying local fish unless we take steps to label the environmentally unsound fish from far-flung places that are lining up next to local fish at the seafood counter.
I am confused by the opposition communicated in Tyler Hayden’s “The Bait and Switch of Seafood Fraud” article to the new legislation being proposed to make seafood buying a more honest process for consumers. Santa Barbara’s fishermen have great reason to take pride in the products of their industry. This legislation makes it easier for consumers to do our part by knowing exactly how to support our local fishermen.
Efforts to transparently label food are appreciated and expected in most sections of our supermarkets. If I choose to pay a higher price to buy organic apples, I don’t want there to be any chance that I have inadvertently bought a product from a pesticide-loaded farm. If I choose to buy a fresh cut of beef, I don’t want it to have been a pre-frozen piece of meat that came from abroad. And I would be downright outraged if this beef turned out to be some animal other than a cow. We need this same kind of basic transparency in the seafood section.
This new legislation that is being proposed is good for the environment and, more importantly, it is good for local industry.