Investigative report details fraudulent practices of private seafood distributor Sea To Table

Avatar By Lliane Hunter | 2 years ago

An Associated Press investigation into the global seafood industry reveals numerous counts of fraud perpetrated by national distributor Sea To Table. While conscientious consumers looked to Sea To Table to distribute sustainably caught, local food, the company has been engaging in the same nefarious practices known to the global fishing industry. According to surveillance conducted by the Associated Press, and preliminary DNA tests, much of Sea To Table’s product comes from across the globe. Reporters have traced the company’s supply chain to migrant fishermen in foreign waters who have described labor abuses, poaching, and the slaughter of sharks, whales and dolphins.

Sea To Table marketed itself as a distributor of fish caught from local fishermen, often sending emails describing idyllic seaside towns where the fish were supposedly caught. The AP surveilled the company, followed trucks, and interviewed fishermen who worked on three continents, revealing—among other things—that some of the docks listed, are not docks at all. They were even found to name small-scale fishermen as the source of catches, who had never fished for the company. One invoice obtained by AP listed the boat “Standin Up” as the source of a $500 purchase of fish. However, the vessel’s owner said it was in another state at the time, hundreds of miles away. “I know my name is being used,” said the upset boat owner, Robert Devlin. “A lot of people do fraud that way.”

Some of the AP’s DNA testing suggest fish have been sourced from the Indian Ocean or the Western Central Pacific where foreign companies operate with virtually no oversight. Some crew members have described being beaten and forced to work when they were sick or hurt. As for those that die on board, their bodies are tossed in the freezer with the catch. Sellers who know, or should have known, that fish is mislabeled could be found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, mail fraud and wire fraud. Sea To Table owner Sean Dinmin has stated he is temporarily suspending operations with two partners to conduct an audit.