Beautiful…… Chilean Sea Bass!
Not so beautiful… Patagonian Toothfish!
Have you ever heard of Patagonian toothfish? Well, chances are, you’ve eaten it — only when you ate it, it was called Chilean Seabass.
Yes, that’s right, Chilean Seabass is just a more “friendly” name for the Patagonian toothfish. The name under which it’s marketed was changed in 1977 by fisherman Lee Lantz , to make it sound more appetizing to the American market. Although the fish isn’t always caught in Chilean waters, and a toothfish isn’t technically even a bass, the term Chilean Seabass had “broad resonance among American seafood eaters.”
While the name change has certainly helped the Patagonian toothfish become more popular (there was a major Chilean Seabass boom in the ‘90s), it has also led to overfishing of the species. Without strict government regulation, sustainability hasn’t been a top priority and many fishermen have been fishing in areas where they shouldn’t be. Had this fish not been renamed to make it more marketable, would the demand have been as high and led to overfishing? Probably not.
It may seem odd that a fish’s name was changed to make it sound better, however it is actually more common than you may think. Monkfish was originally called Goosefish, Sea Urchin used to be called Whore’s Eggs and Orange Roughy was Slimehead.