British customers could be eating ‘endangered SHARKS’ from their local chip shop, fishmongers and restaurants
- Species like the hammerhead and dogfish shark are being sold as food in Britain
- A staggering 90 per cent of shark sold at chip shops is globally threatened
- Ambiguous and misleading labelling on menus mean most people are unaware
- Findings demonstrate the need for more informative, accurate seafood labelling
- Scalloped hammerhead shark, also endangered, was discovered in 40 per cent of shark fins sold in Asian restaurants and supermarkets
Fish lovers may be completely unaware that they are eating endangered shark meat from their chip shop, suggests a new study.
Endangered species of hammerhead and dogfish are among shark species being sold in Britain, reveals the research.
But most customers are unaware they could be biting into the species because of ambiguous and misleading labels on menus at chippers and fishmongers.
A staggering 90 per cent of shark sold in Britain was the globally threatened spiny dogfish which is subject to international trading restrictions.
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For the first time in Europe, shark fins from a nationwide Asian food wholesaler destined for restaurants and supermarkets were also analysed using mini bar codes. A staggering 90 per cent of the 78 battered and fried samples from fish and chip shops were spiny dogfish shark. Pictured: Shark fins examined in the study
Meanwhile the scalloped endangered hammerhead shark was discovered in 40 per cent of shark fins sold in Asian restaurants and supermarkets.
The researchers sampled more than 150 different shark products from fishmongers and chippies in the south of England between February 2016 and November 2017, including London, Hampshire, Devon and Somerset.
The majority of chip shop samples were sold under generic names such as huss, rock salmon and rock eel.
Researchers urged retailers to stop using misleading ‘umbrella terms’ so customers know exactly what they’re putting in their mouths.
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For the first time in Europe, the team also studied shark fins from an unnamed nationwide Asian food wholesaler destined for restaurants and supermarkets were also analysed using mini bar codes.
A staggering 90 per cent of the 78 battered and fried samples from fish and chip shops were the critically endangered spiny dogfish shark – which is prohibited in the European Union.
The species also made up 16 per cent of the 39 samples from fishmongers.
Dried and processed shark fins sold in Asian restaurants and supermarkets were also sampled, 38 per cent of which were the endangered scalloped hammerhead shark, which is subject to international trade restrictions.
Meanwhile 25 per cent of samples were shortfin mako and 13 per cent smalleye hammerheads – both classified threatened species.
Fish lovers may be completely unaware that they are eating endangered shark meat from their chip shop, suggests a new study. Endangered species of hammerhead and dogfish are among shark species being sold in Britain (stock)
Study first author Catherine Hobbs, of Exeter University, said: ‘It’s almost impossible for consumers to know what they are buying.
‘People might think they’re getting a sustainably sourced product when they’re actually buying a threatened species.
‘Our findings demonstrate the need for more informative and accurate seafood labelling.’
Doctor Andrew Griffiths, also of Exeter University, said: ‘The discovery of endangered hammerhead sharks highlights how widespread the sale of declining species really is – even reaching Europe and the UK.
‘Separate investigations focusing on Asia have commonly identified scalloped hammerhead in fin processing.’
He added that the alarming findings, published in the journal Scientific Reports, ‘highlight the global nature of the damaging trade in endangered shark species, in which Europe and the UK have a continuing role.’
WHAT IS THE ENDANGERED ‘RED LIST’?
Species on the endangered red list are animals of the highest conservation priority that need ‘urgent action’ to save.
An Amber list is reserved for the next most critical group, followed by a green list.
Red list criteria:
- Globally threatened
- Historical population decline in UK during 1800–1995
- Severe (at least 50 per cent) decline in UK breeding population over last 25 years
- Severe (at least 50 per cent) contraction of UK breeding range over last 25 years
Last year, in the UK, several more species were added to the list.
- Atlantic puffin
- Long-tailed duck
- Turtle dove
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