Something to think about: fake seafood news

March 3, 2017 - Campbell River, B.C.

By Ian Roberts, Director of Public Affairs, Marine Harvest Canada

Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it.” – Jonathon Swift, The Examiner, 1710.

And this quote was written almost 300 years prior to the reality of the World Wide Web.

I feel that B.C. salmon farmers have been very responsive to fair criticism of our business, but when blatant fake news quickly spreads about the internet, it is very concerning. In the seafood business, many fraudulent headlines have been published in recent years that have cast doubt in consumer confidence.

Eating tilapia is worse than eating bacon” and “Research suggests canned tuna might not be safe to eat” are two recent examples that have made rounds about the internet. While tempting as “click-bait”, the actual content of both stories provides zero facts to support each title’s thesis.

In 2013, I had to contact TV host Dr. Oz to request correction to his website that claimed “Farm-raised salmon is more likely to contain harmful toxins than wild salmon”. Dr. Oz’s research team fumbled for two years attempting to find science to support this claim, finally failing to do so. In 2015, without apology, Dr. Oz removed the webpage. 

As Drew Cherry at Intrafish Media states “If you write a headline, you better deliver on your promise.”

An obvious concern is that fake seafood news may deter people from eating a healthy and affordable protein – and seafood is something that health officials are asking we eat more of. Something to think about the next time you’re baited to click.