At a recent Seafood Festival in Plymouth, England a blue shark was paraded through the British port city before being chopped up, cooked and served to festival-goers.
It should be well known that the blue shark is a near-threatened species, after the events that took place at this festival, many people and conservationists have criticized the event.
This blue shark was hoisted into the air by two men before it was placed on a stage to star in a cooking demonstration.
Local experts from the Ocean Conservation Trust, which is also based out of Plymouth, England, was one of the first to criticize the event. One of the members of the charity said: “As an ocean conservation charity, we do not condone the eating of blue shark and were disappointed to see that a blue shark was shown off as well as being featured on the chef’s stage.”
While it was made clear that this shark was caught accidentally – landed as a by-catch, members of the public still acted with outrage on Facebook. This unlucky shark managed to get trapped by commercial fishing nets, but instead of releasing the shark. The fisherman celebrated by slaughtering it for the ‘catch of the day’.
“In a time and city where we are encouraged to help with the protection and conservation of sharks, many people think this is just terrible, especially with shark numbers dwindling.” One woman explains.
Another person wrote: “Totally out of order, killed and paraded. I thought these days were over.”
The Plymouth city council responded with: “Unfortunately during this year’s Seafood festival a shark was inadvertently caught as a by-catch by a local fisherman on one of their regular commercial fishing activities and was then brought to the ‘catch of the day’ session on the main stage of the Seafood Festival.
“We and our partners are committed to protecting our marine environment and sustainable fishing, especially around endangered species such as sharks, and we do not condone what happened and we want to make sure this does not happen again in future events.”
It is globally known that the blue shark is indeed near threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list. In the UK, it is a priority species under the UK post-2010 biodiversity framework.
While sharks can be an inevitable part of by-catch, it is time that more people respected catch and release for endangered animals. While blue shark can still be legally retained, sold and consumed. A spokesperson from the Shark Trust said: “Having seen the photographs related to the auction, and how the shark was handled, we can appreciate that this caused distress to some festival-goers and was not the most appropriate approach.”
- Outrage as blue shark is cooked and served at Plymouth Seafood festival https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/17/blue-shark-cooked-at-plymouth-seafood-festival
- Ocean Conservation Trust https://www.oceanconservationtrust.org/
- Shark Trust https://www.sharktrust.org/
- The Wildlife Trusts https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/marine/fish-sharks-skates-and-rays/blue-shark
- Plymouth Seafood Festival https://www.plymouth.gov.uk/visitorsandtourism/whatson/plymouthseafoodfestival
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