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#409837 - 06/14/11 03:18 PM Is Your Filet Really Snapper?
Marty Offline
In this coastal country - it's hard to find anyone who doesn't like Snapper or Grouper - and those prized fish are even more delectable when they are filleted.

But there's a thing about that filet business - which is always a little suspect. The filet is the boneless part of the fish - but because it's been sliced up - you can't see the skin, the head or any of the identifying features.

Well, a researcher from North Carolina University who's doing her Doctoral thesis in Belize performed DNA testing on 150 pieces of what is sold as Grouper or Snapper filet - and guess what she found? None of it was snapper! Courtney Cox discussed her surprising findings:

Courtney Cox, researcher
"I have access and analyze over 150 fillet samples from all throughout Belize and which were all sold to me as snapper or grouper and I have not found one snapper through genetic analysis. I found a few grouper but no snappers."

Cox bought her fish at open and closed fish markets, as well as supermarkets and stores. But she wasn't doing consumer research - she was trying to find out if parrotfish is still being sold as filet. In May of 2009, Belize signed unto a ban against harvesting the parrotfish and Cox has been visiting for the past three years to monitor parrotfish populations and their prevalence on the market.

The good news is - even as you may be eating "Cato" filet - the parrotfish numbers on the reef are going up - and its prevalence at fish-markets as mystery filet is going down.

Now Cox wants your help in finishing her research. She is asking any member of the public to give her a sample of their filet so she can also send that to North Carolina for testing. Here's why:

Courtney Cox, researcher
"I would like to have a greater sample size so I am asking anyone in Belize from restaurants, anyone who is selling fillets - if they would be willing to provide me with a very small piece of fish and I can test it genetically and I can supply them with a report that's telling them what fish they are actually selling and Healthy Reefs is offering a free t-shirt to anyone who can provide a fish sample. It would greatly benefit my research and I can have a greater impact and greater sample size and be able to tell the people of Belize what they are actually eating."

So if you have some uncooked filet you would like tested, just call Courtney Cox at 627-8737, and she'll come and take a small sample of the fish - and within three months you'll know just what was on your plate. Her research is facilitated by the SOUTHERN ENVIRONMENTAL ASSOCIATION, HEALTHY REEFS AND THE FISHERIES DEPARTMENT…

Channel 7


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#409838 - 06/14/11 03:19 PM Re: Is Your Filet Really Snapper? [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

150 samples of grouper and snapper fillet, is anything but

The next news item is not about the power for your home, but more purchasing power for the seafood prepared in your kitchen. The price of fillet averages about ten dollars and up depending on the type of fish you buy. But students of business learn early on that the term Caveat Emptor means let the buyer beware. And though that caveat is not visible when buying at the fish market or even at a co-op, perhaps it should be posted in bold letters wherever fillet is sold. While doing a research on a fish specie, a graduate student collected over one hundred and fifty samples of fillet, purported to be either Snapper or Grouper, all bought at supermarkets and cooperatives near you. Can you guess how much of the samples were actually Snapper or Grouper? The answer is none.

Courtney Cox, PHD Student, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

“Another interesting result that came out of my work is that the people of Belize may not be eating the fish they think they are. I’ve analyzed over a hundred and fifty samples of fillets throughout the entire country—all which were sold to me as snapper or grouper. And I did not find any snapper or grouper through my genetic analysis. What I found those fillets included cobia, snook, hogfish, trigger fish, even gato.”

Jose Sanchez

“This is fish you found in supermarkets or fish from the fishermen that sell in the fish markets?”

Courtney Cox

“This was fish that were sold in the fish markets, co-ops, supermarkets and in restaurants.”

Jose Sanchez

“So, how have we been duped? Do we need to buy it whole?”

Courtney Cox

“That would be the safest way to know what you are actually eating—to buy it whole. My original project was focused on accessing whether fishermen were still catching parrot fish after the ban on all harvesting of parrot fish was implemented in May of 2009 which banned all the harvesting of parrot fish throughout all the waters in Belize. This was an extremely progressive move by Belize and they are one of the only countries in the world to do this kind of thing. And it is so important because there has been a decline in coral health throughout the entire Caribbean including in the Belizean barrier reef and the parrot fish are of vital importance to the health of the reef. My research has shown very encouraging results. I collected data in 2009 and 2010 and my results are showing that parrot fish being sold in markets has decreased over that year and the parrot fish that are swimming in the reef has increased. So this is very encouraging and it shows that the fishermen in Belize are doing a good job at complying with this law. The parrot fish are still being sold in the markets, but to a lesser degree than they were before the ban was implemented.”

Courtney Cox, the PH.D. Candidate from the University of North Carolina, is interested in collecting and analyzing more samples in Belize. She is asking for help from Belizeans who sell fillet, to provide her with samples that she will have analyzed to see if it’s the fish they actually bought. As a bonus for cooperation, Healthy Reef Initiative will also provide a free t-shirt for anyone that provides fillet samples. For the next few weeks, Cox can be reached at 627-8737.

Channel 5


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