Va. lawmakers push for full 'bait to plate' plan to ward off fraud

Published on
September 17, 2015

Lawmakers in the state of Virginia are urging U.S. President Barack Obama to accept and enforce a complete “bait to plate” strategy as a means to help fight seafood fraud, particularly in reference to tracking crab meat.

Although the Presidential Task Force to Combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud made moves in March to prevent the sale of fake Chesapeake blue crab, some regulators say the effort doesn’t go far enough. That’s why U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner closed ranks with U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman, to convince the president that the industry would be better served if crab meat was tracked the entire way from the source to the consumer rather than just to the first point of domestic sale.

In a letter to the president, the lawmakers pointed out the benefits of embracing a “bait to plate” scheme, which include protecting consumers as well as honest fishers who are often undermined by fraudsters who package cheaper crab species under the elevated Chesapeake name.

"Deceptive labeling misleads consumers and threatens the livelihood of the watermen in our states," the lawmakers said, according to the Daily Press. "We have a duty to protect the efforts of our honest fishermen and the economic gains from this resource."

More push is needed, wrote the lawmakers, to "fully and comprehensively prevent the fraudulent activities that are negatively impacting Virginia and Maryland watermen."

Regulators suggest that more documentation should be required of crab species imports from Indonesia, China and other countries, to further help stave off fraud as well. The current recommendations, as they were handed down in March, encourage the tracking of only Chesapeake blue crab as an at-risk species, and follow crab sales only to the first point of domestic sale.

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