With the start of European Shark Week, three major supermarkets chains within Europe – Alcampo, Sabeco and Simply Market – have made the decision to stop selling products from endangered shark species and to only trade in those not listed as threatened. Between them, these three chains possess in the region of 200 outlets. This move comes only a couple of days after the Spanish government announced further legislation to protect threatened shark species.
This move iterates these supermarkets’ intentions to support sustainable fisheries to ensure an ongoing supply of fish and follows their decision more than a year ago to cease trading in bluefin tuna products. Other fish, such as European flounder, have also been taken off the shelves.
Their efforts have been commended by Greenpeace, who expressed hope that a general move towards supporting sustainable fisheries will continue, whilst urging for further endangered species to receive the same treatment.
There is some concern, however, that many species not listed as threatened may in fact be so, but are not simply due to there being insufficient data on their populations to pass judgement on the viability of their stocks. As such other species may not be receiving the protection they also need from over exploitation, highlighting an urgent need for more comprehensive assessments of data deficient populations.
UPDATE: It has since come to our attention that these supermarket chains will continue to sell North West Atlantic spiny dogfish products, despite the species’ current listing as endangered on the IUCN Red List and extensive efforts by the Shark Alliance to promote their conservation. Although there is some evidence to suggest increasing biomass of spiny dogfish in the fishery, the population structure reveals that there may simply be insufficient juveniles to replace the ageing stock of adults. Furthermore two additional endangered shark species have in fact been excluded from the supermarkets’ policy. As ‘Wild Ocean Blue’ states below, it can’t be denied that the supermarkets are making a step in the right direction, however it goes some way towards discrediting their commitment to only support sustainable fisheries if endangered species such as the spiny dogfish remain on the shelves.