Britain’s frozen food specialist, Iceland, has decided to de-list blue shark steaks from its brand new Food Warehouse stores following discussions with Bite-Back the UK’s shark and marine conservation charity.
Just five months after trialling the product in a small number of stores, the near-threatened shark species will no longer be sold once existing stocks have been cleared. Previously blue shark appeared alongside other exotic meats including crocodile, kangaroo and buffalo.
The company’s decision to de-list shark was accelerated by commentary from the UK shark and marine conservation charity, Bite-Back, regarding the environmental impact of dwindling shark populations on the oceans.The charity, whose mission is to make the UK shark free, also underlined the public health concerns associated with the mercury content of shark meat.
Campaign director for Bite-Back, Graham Buckingham, said: “This is another exciting victory for sharks and the oceans. Overfishing for sharks only exists because of overconsumption and that’s why we can’t tolerate any additional demand created by retailers and restaurants in the UK. Iceland is to be applauded for putting conservation before commerce and ending the sale of shark steaks.”
Approximately 1 million blue sharks, equivalent to 571,000 tonnes, are taken from the Atlantic and Mediterranean every year, prompting scientists to acknowledge a decline in blue shark numbers against historic data.
Joint MD at Iceland, Nigel Broadhurst, said: “Iceland is grateful to Bite-Back for helping us arrive at a decision that is best for the oceans and our reputation as a first-class provider of quality frozen food.”
Since its launch Bite-Back has also inspired ASDA and MAKRO to drop shark meat from stores across the country.
Graham Buckingham said: “The message for retailers and restaurants has to be simple – sharks belong in the high seas and not on the high street. From an environmental, ethical and moral standpoint it is unacceptable to serve shark products in the UK so it is hugely encouraging that a big food retailer has acted responsibly.”