Fish and chip shops and fishermen sell endangered sharks to an invisible public, according to researchers using DNA barcodes to identify the types of sales.
Most of the chips that are sold under generic names such as huss, rock, snowflakes and rock salmon have proved to be a dull swamp, a species of shark classified as endangered in Europe from the red list of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Researchers at Exeter University have also discovered fins of shark species that knew that they were selling British wholesalers, including crushed wetlands that are endangered globally, as well as short maca and small sharks.
Other species sold in fish and chips and fishery shops include stars with smooth hounds, nurseries and blue sharks.
It was illegal to catch sloppy rain in the EU by 2011, but the fish is now allowed to be sold as a trailer – when grown in networks that target other species.
The government allows many types of sharks to be sold under long-used generic names such as rocks, but researchers are calling for more precise food labeling – with clearly identified fish at the point of sale to consumers – so people know what types of foods are and where they come from .
"It's almost impossible for consumers to know what they are buying," says Catherine Hobbs of Exeter University, and the first author of the paper published in the Scientific Reports. "People may think they are getting a sustainable source product when they actually buy endangered species.
"There are health problems. Knowing the types you buy could be important in terms of allergies, toxins, mercury content and increased concern about microplastics in the sea food chain."
Perki are harder to label because they are removed as soon as the sharks catch up, but Hobbs said there is still a problem with "certain fishermen who do not adhere to labeling laws" when the fish land.
"The discovery of endangered shark sharks emphasizes the widespread sales of descending species – even reaching Europe and the United Kingdom," says Dr. Andrew Griffiths, also from the University of Exeter. "The rolled hammer can be imported under strict conditions, but the wholesaler had no idea what kind of fin they belonged to."
The study analyzed 78 samples of chip stores and 39 fishermen, mainly in southern England, as well as 10 fins from wholesalers, who sold them in restaurants and specialized supermarkets.