What is Certified Louisiana Wild Seafood?
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries established the Louisiana Wild Seafood Certification Program to ensure customers and consumers are getting the freshest, best quality seafood in the world – Louisiana seafood. The program guarantees that all Certified Louisiana Seafood is caught in the Gulf of Mexico or Louisiana coastal or inland waters by a licensed Louisiana fisherman, landed at a Louisiana dock, and processed and packaged by a Louisiana-based company. The program provides additional education for docks and processors on best practices for safe seafood handling and seafood sanitation guidelines. There are strict chain of custody requirements that provide traceability to ensure that seafood with the Certified logo is a product of Louisiana. And every dollar spent on the purchase of Certified Louisiana Seafood directly supports Louisiana’s vibrant fishing industry. So whether it’s shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico, crawfish out of the Atchafalaya Basin, oysters from the beds in Plaquemines Parish, catfish from the bayous of Des Allemandes, or crabs caught in Lake Pontchartrain, you can be confident that when you see that logo, you are getting Certified Louisiana Wild Seafood.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the participants of the Louisiana Wild Seafood Certification Program are committed to the environmental and economic sustainability of Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico – ensuring its seafood will be available for future generations. We engage every level of the seafood supply chain, from fisherman to chefs, to improve industry standards and techniques in order to better manage our fisheries and promote responsible harvesting. We have developed strong partnerships with other government agencies, NGO’s, businesses, and industry leaders to educate those in the industry as well as consumers about the importance of our conservation efforts.
What can you tell about the seafood that bears the Certified Louisiana Seafood logo?
- The seafood was harvested from Louisiana waters or the Gulf of Mexico
- The handlers of that seafood are regulated and inspected by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Agriculture and Forestry, and Health and Hospitals, and have abided by all federal regulations. They have received training on best handling practices and sanitation guidelines, and they are committed to providing the highest quality seafood possible.
- The seafood comes from sustainable fisheries, responsibly managed under proven systems and harvested with the latest fishing gear that reduce bycatch and minimize environmental impact.
- Every dollar spent on the seafood directly supports Louisiana fishermen and the entire fishing industry of Louisiana.
- The seafood will be the best tasting, highest quality seafood you can find, because it is Certified!
The next time you are in a grocery store looking to buy seafood or in a restaurant ordering the fresh catch of the day, ask yourself the following questions:
Where did this seafood originate?
The United States imports about 90 percent of its seafood supply. According to NOAA, over 4.9 billion pounds (2,458,757 tons) of seafood was imported into the United States in 2013, an increase of 16,813 tons (1%) from 2012. This results in a large and growing seafood trade deficit of more than $10.4 billion per year. So which countries are providing all of this foreign seafood?
- Shrimp is imported from Asian countries and Ecuador.
- Atlantic salmon is supplied from Canada, Norway, and Chile
- Tilapia is provided mostly by China, followed by Indonesia, Ecuador, and Honduras.
- Scallops are mainly imported from China, followed by Canada, Mexico, Japan, Argentina, and the Philippines.
- Mussels are imported from Canada, New Zealand, and Chile.
- Clams are sourced from several Asian countries and Canada
- Oysters are mainly imported from China, South Korea, and Canada.
All Certified Louisiana Seafood is harvested from Louisiana waters or the Gulf of Mexico.
Is this seafood safe to eat?
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for inspecting seafood imported into this country. In 2013, the FDA inspected between 1 and 2 percent of all seafood shipments into the United States. Between 2002 and 2012, the FDA turned away over 10,000 shipments of seafood. The main reasons for rejection were: nutritional mislabeling, filth and decomposition, pesticide residues, salmonella, and E. Coli bacteria. There have been numerous reports of unsanitary conditions of seafood farms throughout the world and the practices used to keep those farms productive, such as the negligent use of antibiotics, a practice illegal in the United States. Antibiotic resistance, bacteria, and other chemical residue found in some imported seafood pose great health risks to U.S. consumers.
All Certified Louisiana Seafood has been handled under strict federal and state safety standards.
Was this seafood harvested responsibly?
The United States, including Louisiana, is recognized around the world as a leader in responsibly managed fisheries and aquaculture operations. Unfortunately, we import seafood from some countries that are not as reputable—in fact, some foreign countries lack the means, or sometimes desire, to implement and enforce conservation and management measures for their fisheries and aquaculture operations. As a result, some industrial seafood production has depleted fish and shellfish populations and threatened important coastal habitats with destruction and pollution. These impacts also affect coastal communities in these areas, destroying traditional fishing areas and livelihoods and leaving them more vulnerable to natural disasters.
Even when there are national or international conservation and management measures in place, so-called illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing vessels remain a major threat to fishery resources. IUU vessels hide out in international waters and fish in violation of established laws. They fish without limits or discretion, overfishing populations, destroying habitat, and capturing protected species, and sneak their seafood products into the supply chain. These products typically do not meet food safety and labor regulations either.
All Certified Louisiana Seafood comes from sustainable fisheries, responsibly managed under proven systems, and harvested with the latest fishing gear that reduces bycatch and other environmental impacts.
Who benefits from the purchase of this seafood?
It’s estimated that one in every five wild caught fish are taken illegally, which adds up to nearly $23 billion worth of illegal seafood harvested annually. A report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime found that illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing operations are linked to criminal entities that use fishing vessels to conduct other criminal activities, such as illicit drug trade, slavery, human trafficking, and illegal immigration, all which have national security implications. The U.S. Coast Guard has indicated that pirate fishing vessels from other nations illegally fish our coastal waters and take millions of pounds of fish annually. Currently, there are no U.S. regulations requiring the inspection of foreign fishing vessels when they enter U.S. ports. Not only does IUU fishing damage our carefully managed fish populations and ecosystems, the flood of cheap, illegally harvested seafood into the United States dramatically undercuts American fishermen, making it difficult to compete fairly in the U.S. market, and further injuring the U.S. economy.
All purchases of Certified Louisiana Seafood directly support Louisiana fishermen, the entire Louisiana seafood industry, our coastal communities, and the state and U.S. economy.
How do I tell where the seafood is from based on the label?
The lack of regulations for proper seafood product labeling in the United States can make it difficult to identify a product’s country of origin or even species of seafood it contains. Mislabeling and misidentifying fish are common occurrences, which have proven to be unsafe for some consumers. Though a federal country of origin labeling law is in place to inform consumers where seafood was farmed or wild-caught, exemptions exist. Nearly all processed seafood products and seafood markets are exempt from such labeling regulations. Often, the country of origin listed is only the country from which that product was shipped, which may not be the country from which the seafood originated. Industrial seafood often follows a complicated path during its processing before its entry into the United States.
All Certified Louisiana Seafood has been caught from Louisiana or Gulf waters, landed at a Louisiana dock, and processed and packaged in Louisiana.