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British fish shops found ‘selling endangered species of shark’

A new study has found that British fish and chip shops have been “selling endangered species of shark”.

The research by the University of Exeter, found that the majority of fish sold under generic names such as rock eel, rock salmon and huss, turned out to be spiny dogfish, an endangered species of shark.

University scientists used DNA barcoding to take samples of products from UK fish shops along with an Asian food wholesaler. Fishing for spiny dogfish has been prohibited in most circumstances under EU rules.

Lead author Catherine Hobbs, 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.

“There are also health issues. Knowing what species you are buying could be important in terms of allergies, toxins, mercury content and the growing concern over microplastics in the marine food chain. Our findings demonstrate the need for more informative and accurate seafood labelling.”

The samples of shark fins taken from the Asian wholesaler, which intended to supply UK supermarkets, also contained traces of other threatened species, such as shortfin mako and smalleye hammerheads. The study saw 78 samples from chip shops and 39 from fishmongers, mostly in southern England, as well as 10 fins from the wholesaler analysed.

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