DNA news for UK’s shark-fin diners

Carcasses of finned sharks on the seabed, South East Asia


DNA news for UK's shark-fin diners


Picture: Scubazoo.

It might not bother them, but diners who order shark-fin soup at those restaurants that still serve the “delicacy” in the UK could well be consuming endangered species, according to Bite-Back Shark & Marine Conservation.

The UK charity is urging diners to avoid – and restaurants to stop serving – all shark-fin dishes, after new DNA research by Exeter University found fins from endangered scalloped hammerheads and threatened shortfin makos among generically labelled shark-fin products being sold into the restaurant trade by an Asian food wholesaler.

31 January 2019

Once a shark’s fins have been cut off, dehydrated and packaged, the species becomes difficult to identify.

“We’re making huge strides in shark conservation but the continued appearance of shark-fin soup on menus confounds us,” admitted Bite-Back’s Campaign Director Graham Buckingham. “Out of the 10 fins analysed by the university, two came from species that are either endangered or threatened.

“Clearly anyone ordering shark-fin soup, or buying the ingredient, could be contributing to the extinction of rare and majestic sharks. It’s time that British restaurants ditched this highly controversial dish.”

“Right now one in four shark species is listed as endangered or threatened,” said wildlife expert, TV presenter and Bite-Back patron Steve Backshall. “It’s clear that demand for shark-fin soup could wipe out many of the ocean’s most remarkable and fascinating predators. This DNA research is all the evidence you need to know that it’s simply not OK to eat shark-fin soup.”

Bite-Back says that the campaign it has run since 2004 has helped bring about an 81% decline in the number of UK restaurants serving shark-fin soup, including Hakkasan, the country’s only Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant. However, it says that at least a dozen establishments still serve the controversial dish, and hopes to have rid Britain of all shark products by 2022.

Bite-Back has provided Divernet with the names of nine UK restaurants that still serve shark-fin soup, though it says that there could be more.

They are: Mandarin Kitchen (Queensway, London); Yi-Ban (Dockside Rd, London); Overseas & Wan Chai Corner (both Gerrard Street, London); Jun Peking (Sutton Parade, London); Yew Tree (High St, Walkern, Herts); Golden Dragon (London Rd, Shardlow, Derby); Shanghai Moon (High St, Leicester); and Ming’s Garden (Stortford Rd, Hatfield Heath, Bishop’s Stortford).

The DNA research is published in Scientific Reports today (31 January).


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