Seafood and Market Misinformation

January 24, 2020

Seafood and Market Misinformation


Not long ago, Drs. Tim Bartley and Robert Hanner were discussing the dream of producing a globally sustainable seafood market in a time when fraudulent activity and lack of market information seems rampant (i.e., both species and the geographical origin of species are obscured in the seafood market). After reading Dr. Bartley’s thesis on aquatic food web structure in nature and its implications for stability, Dr Hanner remarked that “what is needed is to have humans behave like real, persistent food webs”. Dr. Bartley replied that with the modern development of multiple biotracers (that can easily identify species and geographical origin) this likely could occur. These offhand comments triggered a small working group that have put together an argument that biotracers have the potential to place humans structurally within the food in way that mimics real webs. Importantly, this same food web structure has been argued to be a potent stabilizing force for maintaining species diversity. The argument from Bartley, Hanner and others is that mimicking this mechanism by giving buyers maximal information to make informed decisions allows people to behave in a manner that could markedly enhance the sustainability of the global seafood markets (and other global markets). Much more needs to be done but this commentary pushes us to think about forcing humanity to operate within the bounds of real food webs. For an infographic version of these ideas click on the following link


To read the commentary by Bartley, Hanner, Bieg and McCann 2019, please follow


Relevant Papers/Articles

National Post: Hanner on Seafood Fraud.

Edmunds et al. 2016. A role for brain size and cognition in food webs. Ecology Letter: 

McCann and Rooney. The more food webs change the more they stay the same. Phil. Trans.