At Versaggi Shrimp Corporation, Sal and his family have been fishing the waters off Tampa Bay for over 100 years. "The substitution wasn't as rampant years ago when I first got into the business because the imports weren't as high," he offered.
Here's how it works. Fishermen in Vietnam or other countries drop their catch -- for instance, Asian catfish -- in China, where it's filleted, repackaged and shipped to the U.S., sometimes mislabeled as grouper or other fish products like red snapper. It's an illegal practice designed to avoid taxes and other regulations and rake in millions.
According to Sal, the chances of the product getting into the country are extremely good because the inspection rate is so low.
It's just the kind of problem that hooked USF biology professor John Paul. Think of him as a kind of seafood sleuth. Together with colleague Bob Ulrich, they developed GrouperChek, a hand-held machine to check the authenticity of fish using genetic testing.