A fish store in Kuwait has reportedly been shut down after it was discovered sticking googly eyes on its fish to make them appear fresher. According to BBC News, a video of a customer finding and prying off a faux eye was shared via WhatsApp and has since made its way around the Internet.
“The Department of Commerce closes a fish shop that puts fake lenses on fish to make it look fresh!” reported Dubai-based newspaper Al Bayan in a tweet accompanying photos of the incognito fish.
A video posted to YouTube shows the videographer wearing gloves to peel off a cosmetic eye, revealing a rancid, old-looking fish eye below.
The Twitter puns practically wrote themselves.
Apparently, it’s not the first time a local fishmonger has tampered with his haul. In July, a fishmonger was accused of stuffing fish with nails to make them weigh more, thus increasing their overall worth.
While the case of the googly-eyed fish provides amusement, it’s an example of a wider issue regarding the mislabeling and misrepresentation of fish in consumer markets. A study conducted earlier this year reported that more than 90 percent of seafood consumed in the US is imported, and just 1 percent is inspected by the government for fraud. In total, at least one-third of fish sold in American retail outlets is incorrectly labeled, but where that fraud is happening is unclear.
Due to the “complex and obscure seafood supply chain”, it’s difficult to know whether it is the fisherman, the vendors, or a combination of the two who are mislabeling catches. This carries potential concerns for human health, and affects the protection of vulnerable fish species. More than 30 percent of the world’s fisheries have been pushed beyond their biological limits, according to a report by the World Wildlife Fund, meaning more fish are being caught than populations can naturally replace.
But it’s not all bad news. A study conducted by the Environmental Defense Fund and published in Science Advances suggests that tackling sustainable fisheries management alongside climate change can increase fish, food, and economic activity.
“The world’s oceans supply food and livelihood to billions of people, yet species’ shifting geographic ranges and changes in productivity arising from climate change are expected to profoundly affect these benefits,” wrote the authors. “The poor current status of many stocks combined with potentially maladaptive responses to range shifts could reduce future global fisheries yields and profits even more severely than previous estimates have suggested.”
The authors say that reforming fisheries to fix inefficiencies, adapting to changes, and creating monitoring and regulatory transboundary institutions in conjunction with limiting carbon emissions can help mitigate the consequences of overfishing.
Oceans have big benefits for people around the world. More than 80 million tonnes (88 million tons) of seafood is harvested every year, providing more than 20 percent of the animal protein consumed by 3.1 billion people around the world. What's more, fisheries and aquaculture support the livelihoods of between 10 and 12 percent of the global population.