Saturday, 16 February, 2019

At-risk sharks on sale down the chip shop

Scalloped Hammerhead were among the endangered species being sold Scalloped Hammerhead were among the endangered species being sold Credit Caters
Sandy Nunez | 02 February, 2019, 16:57

Simon Walmsley, Chief Marine Adviser at WWF told Yahoo News UK: 'Endangered shark species shouldn't be ending up on people's plates as their weekend takeaway, particularly the spiny dogfish which is vulnerable and threatened with extinction.

Most chip shop fish sold as huss, rock, flake and rock salmon are in fact spiny dogfish, a shark species classified as endangered in Europe by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's red list.

One British wholesaler was unwittingly selling globally endangered scalloped hammerheads, shortfin mako and smalleye hammerhead sharks.

"The discovery of endangered hammerhead sharks highlights how widespread the sale of declining species really is - even reaching Europe and the United Kingdom", said Andrew Griffiths, of the University of Exeter. "Sharks typically take a long time to reach sexual maturity and, once they do, produce relatively few young - at least in comparison to most fish that are commercially caught".

The study analysed 78 samples from chip shops and 39 from fishmongers, mostly in southern England, as well as 10 fins from a wholesaler that sells them to restaurants and specialist supermarkets.

University of Exeter scientists sampled shark products from fishmongers and chip shops, as well as shark fins from an Asian food wholesaler in the UK.

The researchers also tested 30 shark fins seized by the UK Border Force on their way from Mozambique to Asia which derived from the endangered bull shark.

Researchers determined the species to which the samples belonged by cross-referencing the DNA sequence of a sample with the Barcode of Life DNA database.

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Endangered sharks are being sold as food in the U.K, according to experts, even turning up in some fish and chip shops.

Most common, however, was the spiny dogfish, which 77 of the samples were found to be.

Endangered species of hammerhead and dogfish are among the sharks being sold as food in the United Kingdom, according to a study that calls for more accurate labelling so that people know what species they are eating. In other European countries, labeling requirements are much more specific allowing more consumer confidence.

"Until labeling becomes more specific, it's hard to know what you are purchasing", Hobbs said.

Shark fins examined in the alarming study.

But ambiguous and misleading labeling on menus means most people are completely unaware that they're eating shark which could have been illegally imported. And if a shop or restaurant can't prove where their fish comes from?

Fin samples included scalloped hammerheads, which are endangered globally and subject to global tread restrictions, according to the researchers.