According to researchers who use DNA barcoding to identify the species being sold, fish and chip shops and fish dealers sell endangered sharks.
Most of the fish in the chip shop, sold under common names such as goose, stone, scaly and stone salmon, turned out to be a prickly dog, a variety of sharks classified as endangered in Europe by the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Researchers at the University of Exeter also found that the fins of shark species, unknowingly being sold by a British wholesaler, include jagged hammer heads that are threatened with extinction around the world, as well as short-haired mako and small hammer sharks.
Other species sold in stores with fish and chips, as well as fishmongers, include stellar smooth hounds, nannies and blue sharks.
Until 2011, it was illegal to catch a prickly catfish in the EU, but now fish can be sold as by-catch – when it is grown in nets intended for other species.
The government allows many shark species to be sold under long-used generic names such as rocks, but researchers are calling for more accurate food labeling — with fish clearly identified at the point of sale to consumers — so people know what types they eat and where they come from. .
“It’s almost impossible for consumers to know what they are buying,” said Katherine Hobbs of the University of Exeter and the first author of an article published in Scientific Reports. “People might think that they get the product from sustainable sources when they actually buy threatened species.”
“There are also health problems. Knowing which types of food you buy can be important in terms of allergies, toxins, mercury content and growing concerns about microplastics in the marine food chain. ”
Fins are more difficult to label because they are removed as soon as sharks are caught, but Hobbs said that there is still a problem with "some fishermen who do not abide by the laws of marking" when the fish disembark.
“The detection of endangered hammerheads emphasizes how widespread the sale of endangered species is, even in Europe and the UK,” said Dr. Andrew Griffiths, also from the University of Exeter. “The toothed hammerhead can be imported under strict conditions, but the wholesaler had no idea what kind of fin the fish was.”
The study analyzed 78 samples from chip stores and 39 from fish merchants, mainly in southern England, as well as 10 shots from a wholesaler who sells them to restaurants and specialized supermarkets.