Basics of 'Truth in Seafood' bill

By Sonya

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Have you ever wondered if the seafood you are eating is really local?

A new bill introduced to the state Senate would hold retailers and restaurants accountable for what they are selling and serving.

A meeting was scheduled for Thursday in Columbia but was postponed. Officials said it should be rescheduled in the next few weeks.

Those involved in the seafood industry said they hope the bill passes sooner rather than later.

Paul Godbout is the owner of Sellsfish Premium Seafood in Summerville. He said he supports the 'Truth in Seafood' bill 100%.

"It's going to be an anti-fraud bill," he said. "Right now you can go into fish markets, restaurants and be told that the fish you are eating is local, the shrimp are local and when in fact it could have come from Thailand, Indonesia, China, and Vietnam."

The hope is that 'local' will be defined as anything caught in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia.

Godbout said if the bill passes, he hopes multiple agencies will help to enforce it.

"We are looking for strong fines to send the message - there is no reason to do this. There is plenty of local and domestic seafood available. It just cost more and people are willing to pay more for quality seafood," he said.

One person who understands the importance of keeping it local is Rocky Magwood.

His family has been serving fresh seafood in the Lowcountry for more than 30 years.

"We have needed this bill for a long time," he said. "There is a lot of people that mislead the community. There is not that many restaurants that serve fresh seafood and it would surprise a lot of people if they realized how many people don't serve fresh seafood."

Magwood said looks can be deceiving.

"You sit on a creek and you see shrimp boats everywhere - doesn't mean you are eating local seafood," he said.

But those boats are becoming less of a regular sight as local fisherman are forced to compete with cheaper seafood that is being bought from other places.

The bill passed the state House last year but is now going through the Senate.