Regarding the March 15 column by Paula Moore of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, "Something's fishy about your fish dinner":

This column is intended to keep the public from eating seafood and attempts to confuse the issue of mislabeled seafood with fish consumption advisories and public health.

There is no excuse for seafood mislabeling and this unscrupulous practice should be stopped. None of the species cited as being illegally substituted are harvested locally. Consumers should know that local fish dealers work diligently to obtain seafood from fishermen and other suppliers committed to quality, safety, sustainability and traceability. Dealers and fishermen work collaboratively with the U.S. Department of Commerce, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to achieve these goals.

The claim that illegal substitutability creates a public health concern - due to methylmercury levels in locally available seafood - is simply wrong. In the United States, since 1979, the FDA has maintained an action level of 1.0 part per million of mercury. Both domestically produced and imported seafood are regularly inspected against this standard. This "Acceptable Daily Intake Level" includes a margin of safety and is not intended to be a dividing line between risk and no risk. Almost all mercury in fish is in the organic form of methylmercury and is found in trace amounts. Grey tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico is the only fish in the FDA's data base with samples that exceed 0.5 ppm.

While it is certainly her right to choose a vegan diet, Moore's attempt to frighten New Jersey seafood consumers is irresponsible. Her claims are contradicted by a large body of research as well as the FDA. The truth remains that including New Jersey seafood in one's diet is a safe, healthy and responsible choice for all New Jersey consumers.

GREGORY DiDOMENICO

Executive Director

Garden State Seafood Association

Trenton