Europe’s Appetite for Shark meat

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When you read the startling statistic that 11.4K sharks are being killed per hour (or 100 million sharks per year) we tend to think about Asia’s appetite for shark fin soup. Well this is part of the picture, however unfortunately the shark meat trade is actually increasing around the world, whilst the shark fin trade has been decreasing. So who is eating shark meat? Where and Why? It might surprise you to learn that Spain and Italy rank 2nd and 3rd in the world’s largest CONSUMERS of shark meat. If you’ve spent time around these countries you’ll wonder how this is possible as you’ll rarely find it advertised in the menus.

Shark Meat sold in a market

Shark Meat sold in a market

Well the answer is fishy… as swordfish populations in the Mediterranean have declined by 90% since the 1980s fishermen have been exchanging the easily mistaken shark meat for swordfish, forgetting to mention that shark meat has extremely high and unsafe levels of mercury, whilst conveniently also failing to expose to buyers or consumers the real origin of their dish. Basically we’ve all been duped into becoming heavy consumers of our waters apex predators.

Schillerlocke in Germany

Schillerlocke in Germany

In the UK most fish found in “fish&chips” is shark meat (often labeled as rock), whereas in Germany a typical dish known as Schillerlocke is actually breaded shark meat. Did you know that deep-sea shark liver extract is even found in your shampoo/cosmetic products? Check out this exposé to learn why, and make sure to ensure that your cosmetic products don’t contain squalene—and yes none of this is illegal, or even regulated.

What’s worst is that the global narrative for the demise of this majestic prehistoric species is to point fingers at China’s shark fin soup. Meanwhile deterring the attention from the shark meat trade—Spain exported north of 61,000 tonnes of shark meat, whilst Italy imported over 10,000 tonnes in 2011 alone.

As Europe increases its rampant shark fishing spree we asked the European Union to consider a ban on shark fishing as well as better management and labelling of fish fillets.

The petition will be officially reviewed by the European Parliament’s Committee of Petitions on January 21st 2020.

Sources:

2015 the FAO released a comprehensive analysis of the global shark meat trade, and the statistics are horrifying, Project Aware neatly compiled this information in infographics to make it more digestible.

Article by: Isabella Cavalletti

shark meat exports
shark meat exports
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