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A fish story

By Staff
Sept. 2, 2001
Now comes the news that Gov. Ronnie Musgrove is considering calling a special session of the Mississippi Legislature to require labeling of catfish. This would be a huge concession to Mississippi Delta fish growers and processors angered over the fact that catfish raised in Vietnam is selling in the U.S. at prices cheaper than theirs.
Special sessions of the Legislature are expensive and should be reserved for emergency, urgent situations. There does not appear to be any particular urgency in the fish labeling issue and it could be handled when the regular legislative session convenes in January 2002.
Some questions need to be answered first. Mississippi farm-raised catfish represent a multi-billion dollar product in this state and clearly are the tastiest around. But are they overpriced relative to the fish imported from Vietnam? While vague references are made to the way catfish are grown in Vietnam, no legitimate health issue has been raised as far as we know.
It seems to us that the term "farm-raised" needs a legal definition in order to differentiate fish raised by different methods  not necessarily better methods, just different. Consumers could benefit from the knowledge and legislators should add it to their 2002 agenda.
In the meantime, let the dinner tables of America be the judge.