Fish and chip shops and fish traders sell endangered sharks to the unwanted community, according to researchers using DNA barcodes to identify the species to be sold.
Most of the chips of fish sold with generic names such as huss, rock, flake and rock salmon appeared to be spy cheese, shark species that were classified as endangered by the Red List of International Nature Conservation in Europe.
Researchers at the University of Exeter also discovered shark species that were unconsciously sold by a British wholesaler and included combed hammerheads that are threatened all over the world, as well as short mako and smalleye hammerhead sharks.
Other species sold in fish and chip shops and fish dealers included starfish, sister and blue sharks.
Until 2011, the EU was illegal to fish for rafters, but fish are now allowed to be sold as by-catch – if it is grown in nets targeting other species.
The government allows many shark species to be sold using long-standing generic names such as rock, but researchers are demanding more accurate food labeling – with fish clearly identified at the point of sale to consumers – so that people know what species they eat and where it came from.
"It is almost impossible for consumers to know what they are buying," said Catherine Hobbs of the University of Exeter and the first author of the publication of scientific reports. “People can think that they get a sustainably produced product if they actually buy a threatened species.
"There are also health problems. Knowing what species you buy could be important for allergies, toxins, mercury content and the growing concern about microplastics in the marine food chain. ”
Shredders are more difficult to label because they are removed as soon as the sharks are caught, but Hobbs said there is still a problem with "fishermen who do not agree specifically with the labeling laws" when the fish are landed.
"The discovery of endangered hammer head sharks highlights the widespread sale of fallen species, even to Europe and the United Kingdom," said Dr. Andrew Griffiths of the University of Exeter. "The head of a hammer can be imported under strict conditions, but the wholesaler had no idea what the species belonged to."
The study analyzed 78 samples of chip stores and 39 fish merchants, mainly in southern England, and 10 fins from a wholesaler selling them to restaurants and specialized supermarkets.