Donna‐Mareè Cawthorn Charles Baillie Stefano Mariani
First published: 22 June 2018
European Union, Grant/Award Number: 701737.
Editor L. Roman Carrasco


Consumers have the power to influence conservation of marine fishes by selectively purchasing sustainably harvested species. Yet, this power is hindered by vague labeling and seafood fraud, which may mask market biodiversity and lead to inadvertent consumption of threatened species. Here, we investigate the repercussions of such labeling inaccuracies for one of the world’s most highly prized families of fishes‐–the snappers (Family: Lutjanidae). By DNA barcoding 300 “snapper” samples collected from six countries, we show that the lax application of this umbrella term and widespread mislabeling (40%) conceal the identities of at least 67 species from 16 families in global marketplaces, effectively lumping taxa for sale that derive from an array of disparately managed fisheries and have markedly different conservation concerns. Bringing this trade into the open should compel a revision of international labeling and traceability policies, as well as enforcement measures, which currently allow such extensive biodiversity to be consumed unknowingly.

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