Some Chilean sea bass labelled in shops as sustainable are not what they claim to be, researchers have found. In a study published today in Current Biology1, some fish bearing an eco-label were found not to come from the certified fishery; others weren't Chilean sea bass at all.
Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides), marketed as 'Chilean sea bass', became popular with consumers for their buttery flavour and tender, flaky texture. The fish live for up to 50 years in the deep, frigid waters surrounding Antarctica, and take 10-20 years to reach maturity, so they are vulnerable to over-fishing.
Catching them "is not like fishing for fish — it's almost like logging for trees", says Stephen Palumbi, a marine population biologist at Stanford University in California, who was not involved with the study. "It takes that long for these fish to grow up and be ready for market. That's why the fish got in trouble."