Australians unknowingly eat a critically endangered fish that is regularly sold in takeaways – as concerned experts reveal the easy way to avoid it
- The school shark has been sold incorrectly under ‘flake’ at many fishmongers
- The population of the endangered species has decreased by 90 percent
- Shark expert Leonard Guida has warned consumers about the false name
- Mr. Guida has told consumers to download the GoodFish app to stay informed
Australians who eat ‘flake’ may consume school shark, as many shops and restaurants sell the meat under a counterfeit label.
The school shark is regularly caught in Australian fisheries alongside the sticky shark – the real flake.
The species was identified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature last week.
The population of school sharks has decreased by as much as 90 percent in recent years due to overfishing.
Australians who like ‘flake’ (photo) may consume school shark because many shops and restaurants sell their meat under a counterfeit label.
Shark expert, Leonard Guida, urged consumers to become more informed about the fish they buy and recommends the GoodFish app, which lists each species based on factors such as overfishing and if they are endangered.
Mr Guida, who is also a spokesperson for the Australian Marine Conservation Society and shark scientist, said that shark meat is often sold as a flake in Australia, but especially in Victoria.
According to the Australian Fish Name Standard, the name ‘flake’ refers to only two species of gummy sharks – one from Australia and one from New Zealand.
“There is currently no law to call shark meat what it is by its species,” said Mr. Guida 3AW.
But a major threat to school sharks comes from New Zealand, where 523 tons of endangered species are imported into Australia.
“What needs to be done … is that the school shark is fully protected so that it cannot be commercially harvested,” said Mr. Guida.
It was listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature last week after its population declined by 90 percent in recent years due to overfishing (photo: school shark)
Mr. Guida claimed that our national laws prioritize commercial exploitation and economic drivers over environmental ones.
“That’s why we stopped harvesting whales. Why is it different for a shark? Why is it different for a fish? ‘ he told The Guardian.
“There is no reason why an animal that has declined by 90 percent in modern times should be harvested anyway.”
He said there are plenty of other sustainable alternatives to eating flake and that the GoodFish app is a way for consumers to determine which fish to eat.
Shark expert, Leonard Guida, urged consumers to become more informed about the fish they buy and recommends the GoodFish app (photo), listing each species based on factors such as overfishing and if they are endangered
The GoodFish app was developed in response to public concern about overfishing and its impact on Australia’s oceans and their wildlife.
It provides the user with an independent guide to the sustainability of seafood in fish shops, supermarkets, fish and chips shops and restaurants in the country.
The fish are then divided into the categories green, orange and red light.
Green light is a species that is not currently overfished and can withstand current fishing pressures.
An orange light is a fish that may be heavily caught by methods that can damage ocean habitats, and the app suggests that these species should be eaten less.
If a species is listed under the red light, the app states they should not be eaten as they are most likely overfished or an endangered or protected species.
The school shark falls under the red light category.