The fish and chip industry has dismissed reports that suggest shops are serving endangered species of sharks to customers unwittingly.
It follows a study by researchers from The University of Exeter that found 78 samples of spiny dog fish - classed as endangered in Europe - taken from fish and chips shops were being sold under generic terms such as huss, rock salmon and rock eel.
However, the industry has hit back with evidence from the MSC that the majority of fish and chips shops use spiny dogfish imported from the north west Atlantic - essentially imported from the US. This fishery is sustainable and indeed certified by the MSC. Another source is spiny dogfish that is caught accidentally as bycatch, which is also allowed.
Craig Maw of Kingfisher Fish & Chips in Plymouth, Devon, comments: “I would suggest that fish and chip shops selling spiny dogfish, sometimes referred to as rock, have sourced it from sustainable sources and fisheries. It is vital that endangered species don’t end up on our plates. It is in our industry’s interest that we look to source sustainably so we can enjoy fish and chips for generations to come.”
“The real issue is the increasing use of shark and shark fins from endangered species. I would say categorically the use of these endangered species is not a problem in fish and chip shops."
He adds: “The real issue is the increasing use of shark and shark fins from endangered species. I would say categorically the use of these endangered species is not a problem in fish and chip shops. For me, this is why being MSC certified and the MSC label is so important to display to customers and the outside world that the seafood we eat is sustainably sourced.”
This is backed up by The National Federation on Fish Friers which has issued a statement to its members saying: “Having spoken to industry suppliers, one of which is the largest suppliers of rock salmon in the UK market, the species that they import, Squalus Acanthias, is sourced from North American/Canadian MSC Certified Sustainable Fisheries.”
It goes onto advise all shops to clearly label fish species at the point of sale to avoid any confusion, adding: “Working closely with our industry fish suppliers we encourage NFFF members and none members alike to showcase and display the catch information. This includes fish species on offer, the area in which it was caught, through to which vessel it was caught on.”