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Fries with that shark? U.K. chippies found selling threatened species

06 / 02 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

Threatened species of sharks are being sold under generic terms in fish-and-chip shops and at fishmongers in the U.K., a new study has found. For consumers, shark products and species can be hard to identify: any distinguishing features are usually removed before shark steaks are sold; shark meat is battered and fried in traditional fish and chips; and dried shark fins are typically bleached and trimmed, complicating identification. To counter this problem, researchers turned to DNA testing of shark products. They analyzed 78 tissue samples collected from fish-and-chip shops, and 39 samples collected from fishmongers, mostly in southern England. They found that the majority of the samples originated from the threatened spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias), frequently sold under generic names like rock, huss, and rock salmon. The spiny dogfish, listed as a species vulnerable to extinction on the IUCN Red List, has been declining globally, mainly due to overexploitation by fisheries. In the northeast Atlantic, where populations of the species have plummeted by 95 percent, the species is considered critically endangered and commercial targeting of the shark in the region is banned by the European Union. Selling spiny dogfish under generic terms raises ethical questions, the researchers say in the study published in Scientific Reports. The shark meat in the fish-and-chip takeaway could have originated from well-managed stocks, where population trends are more positive. But it could also have come from a place where the shark’s population is either threatened or where its exploitation remains unregulated. “It’s almost impossible for…

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