Fishing and fishery stores and fishermen are selling endangered sharks to the unconscious public, according to researchers who used coding of DNA barcodes to identify species for sale.
Most species of fish sold under generic names such as geese, rocky, flaked and rock salmon proved to be a shark-like shark, a shark that has been identified in Europe as a dangerous red list of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Researchers at Exeter University also found shark fins that were unknowingly sold by a British wholesaler, including globally threatened hammerheades that are threatened worldwide, as well as short-haired macronutrials and macaroni.
Other species sold in fish stores, chips and fishermen included stellar smooth dogs, breeders, and blue sharks.
It was illegal to catch up in the EU by 2011 but fish are now allowed to sell as by-catch – when they are brought up in networks that target other species.
The government allows many shark species to be sold under generic generic names such as rock, but scientists demand more precise labeling of foods – fish clearly identified at the point of sale to consumers – so people know what kind of food they eat and where they come from.
"It is almost impossible for consumers to know what they are buying," says Catherine Hobbs of Exeter University and the first author of the article published in the scientific reports. "People may think they are getting a sustainable energy product when they actually buy endangered species.
"There are also health problems. Knowing which species you are buying could be important from the point of view of allergies, toxins, mercury content, and growing concern about microplastics in the marine food chain."
Flippers are more difficult to label because they are removed as soon as the sharks are caught but Hobbs has declared that there is still a problem with "certain fishermen who do not comply with the labeling laws" when the fish are unloaded.
"The discovery of endangered hammer sharks highlights how widespread the sale of declining species is – even in Europe and the UK," said Dr. Andrew Griffiths, also from the University of Exeter. "The dovetail head can be imported under strict conditions, but the wholesale did not know what kind of fin is."
The study analyzed 78 samples from chips stores and 39 fishermen, mostly in southern England, as well as 10 fins from wholesale who sells them to restaurants and a specialized supermarket.