Spiny Dogfish can live 100 years and were once one of the most abundant species of shark in the world. However intensive fishing in the UK and worldwide has brought global populations to the brink of catastrophe. The IUCN Shark Specialist Group estimated that the Northeast Atlantic population has recently declined by over 95% and are now listed as Critically Endangered in UK waters.
Spiny Dogfish are the number one shark favoured by fish and chip shops in the UK - although there are several others, yet these are sold under the name of Rock Salmon.
Many customers who purchase this are therefore unlikely to realise they are buying a vulnerable species of shark for their dinner. Despite the global decline and the collapse of spiny dogfish populations in European waters it is still be imported in huge numbers from other nations which do permit fishing them - so it is still legal to trade in the UK.
In some circumstances shark is believed to be totally miss-labelled in businesses and sold as species such as Cod or Place! We are aiming to identify this through investigation and genetic sampling.
Of course it is not just small sharks that are sold under a false identity - some larger pelagic species are sold under the guise of sword fish, a much more marketable fish and worth substantially more money.
MAKO SHARK SOLD AS SWORDFISH
This INVESTIGATIVE campaign focuses on transparency and responsibility - we want businesses such as UK fish and chip shops and markets that sell shark under a false name to call it shark and to be transparent as to its origin!
Not only is this an issue of consuming endangered species, but it is one of public safety.
Shark often contains within its flesh harmful toxins and heavy metals that are unsafe for consumption by pregnant or breastfeeding women, children and older people.
How can consumers choose not to eat fish containing harmful toxins - if they are unaware that what they are eating is potentially harmful in the first place!
We feel that it has never been more pertinent for consumers to have the truth of what they are eating and where it has come from so they can make informed choices that protect their health and the health of the ecosystems upon which we depend. Ultimately we want these businesses to stop selling shark completely and at the very least to carry a health warning.