Mislabelling of a depleted reef fish


Any fish species that appears to be readily available in the marketplace will create an impression among the public that there is a plentiful supply of that fish in the sea, but this may belie the true state of the fisheries' stock. Here we use molecular genetic analysis to show that some three-quarters of the fish sold in the United States as ‘red snapper’ — the US Food and Drug Administration's legally designated common name for Lutjanus campechanus1 — belong to another species. Mislabelling to this extent not only defrauds consumers but could also adversely affect estimates of stock size if it influences the reporting of catch data that are used in fisheries management.

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Figure 1: Maximum-likelihood tree (GTR + I + G model) of cytochrome-b DNA sequences from retail ‘red snapper’ (GenBank accession numbers: AY294187205; AY651957–59) and reference sequences (AF239677–78, 80–82; AF240750; AF381270; AF031516; AF299290; U26949, 51–58, 61–62).


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Correspondence to Peter B. Marko.

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Marko, P., Lee, S., Rice, A. et al. Mislabelling of a depleted reef fish. Nature 430, 309–310 (2004).

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