Tell the Gov to Veto CA Senate Bill 1138!

smseafoodIndustry News

On August 29, the California legislature passed a bill that would add a significant new burden on restaurants serving seafood. This bill will have a significant impact on you and your waitstaff, and we encourage you to STAND UP and fight for your right to serve seafood in the state of California!

Here’s a little bit of background:

Senate bill 1138, states:

“A restaurant that sells or offers for sale any fresh, frozen, or processed fish or shellfish intended for human consumption, wild caught or farm raised, shall identify the species of fish or shellfish by its common name for the consumer in writing, or orally if not identified in writing, at the time the consumer orders the fish or shellfish. It is unlawful for a restaurant to knowingly misidentify the species of fish or shellfish in violation of this paragraph.”
The bill does not include an exemption allowing restaurant staff to inform the customer only if the customer asks for the Common Name.

The bill states that a restaurant shall identify the fish by its Common Name for the consumer in writing or orally at the time the consumer orders the fish.

For more, See Section 2 (a) (2) of Senate Bill 1138.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Seafood List provides “Acceptable Market Names” for fish. The CA legislation would require wait staff (at tables or the counter) to identify the fish by its Common Name at the time of order.

Just imagine the following scenarios:

  • A waitress would need to inform a customer ordering shrimp whether the shrimp was “Kadal Shrimp” or “Marsh Grass Shrimp” or “Jinga Shrimp” or one 30 possible Common Names for specific shrimp species.
  • A worker at a food truck accepting an order for a mahi fish taco would need to inform the customer “at the time the customer orders” that she will be served dolphinfish.
  • Hotel restaurant staff would need to know and immediately inform a guest that his “Rockfish” was actually “Splitnose Rockfish” or “Swordspine Rockfish” or “Bronzespotted Rockfish” to comply with this law.

It would be impossible for waitstaff to know the more than 1,850 Common Names of the fish served daily at California restaurants … and the law states a restaurant shall provide the Common Name when the customer orders the fish.


The California legislature has adjourned for the year so there is no opportunity for the legislature to fix this legislation. The only option is for Governor Brown to veto the legislation and avoid restaurants from being required to train wait and counter staff on the more than 1,850 Common Names of fish served at restaurants.

Governor Brown’s staff on this legislation includes:

Lark Park, Deputy Legislative Secretary at [email protected].
Mr. Park’s assistant is Michael Mullaney, [email protected].

If your restaurant believes that the Governor should veto this legislation based on this unworkable mandate, you should contact Mr. Park as soon as possible.

If you prefer to write a letter to Governor Brown, it should be addressed to:

The Honorable Edmund G. Brown, Jr. Governor, State of California State Capitol, First Floor Sacramento, California 95814

Mr. Park should be copied on any letters.

If you want further information, please view this video to understand how CA Senate Bill 1138 will harm your business.