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Join us and help us uncover where and how sharks end up on our plates in Germany - without us even knowing about it most of the time.

What it's about: Sharks are hunted all over the world and also in Europe, or are caught as a welcome by-catch in fisheries for tuna, swordfish, plaice, sole and many other popular food fish. However, since we in Central Europe, unlike in Southern Europe, do not like to see "shark" on the menu, shark meat is often sold here as well as in Great Britain without labelling, under fantasy names or even under false names.

These are often endangered species such as spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) or mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus).

We want to show where shark is in it, even though it doesn't say shark on it, and in doing so we don't only - but also very much - want to take another look at the well-known "Schillerlocke".

Here you can help us find hidden shark products and target suspicious products so that we can have them tested in cooperation with the University of Exeter, UK. This way we can find out what's inside. Using DNA barcoding, we can prove whether the "suspicious sample" actually contains shark and which species of shark it is.

In addition, we also want to create an overview of restaurants, fish shops and markets that will show where shark products - declared as such or not - are on offer, a so-called shark product mapping.

Speaking of Schillerlocke - with your help we are creating a Germany / Austria map: With Schillerlocke we know that it is the smoked belly flap of the spiny dogfish. Samples are therefore not necessary here, but where it is sold at what price and whether it is MSC certified catch (blue MSC seal on it?) we would like to map as part of the shark product mapping for the whole of Germany and also for Austria. After creating the mapping, we will then purchase a few specific samples for testing, "quot erat demonstrandum" so to speak. So if you find this product somewhere, let us know along with the details mentioned (location, price, MSC certified yes/no).

What is wanted for testing:

Shark meat is sold under many synonyms which are made up names and do not describe actual species. Some examples are:

  • Rock salmon
  • Carbonado fish
  • Bacon fish
  • Sea eel
  • Veal fish
  • Spiny dogfish
  • Sea sturgeon
  • Tofu shark
  • Conger eel
  • Anago (a sushi speciality)

On the other hand, all these products, or fish products without any labelling of any kind, such as those found in fish and chips snack bars, are highly interesting and we would love to have samples of them. Such products are rarely found in supermarkets, but in restaurants or at markets.

Especially in restaurants, shark is often offered under false names, e.g. as swordfish. This can be suspected if swordfish is on the menu but offered relatively cheaply (e.g. in Spanish or Portuguese restaurants or also in Chinese restaurants) on the menu should be reported and then sampled after consultation with us.

Mako shark, for example, looks very similar to swordfish because very similar looking shark meat is often used in its place. As scientists at the University of Exeter found out, many fish and chips dishes also contain shark meat - often from endangered species.[2]

Please contact us if you find these products and we will arrange the sampling directly with you.

This is how it is done:

Only a very small piece of the sample is needed for evaluation in the laboratory (approx. 1/2 cm²). With deep-fried samples, it is important that only the meat is preserved, not the breading. Each sample is stored in a separate container (Eppendorf tubes with a capacity of 10 ml are ideal). The samples are then preserved with at least 80% ethanol (available in practically every pharmacy) and stored in the freezer. It is important that the entire sample is covered with alcohol!

We need this information:

  • For sample tracing and mapping, it is important to record the following data and enclose it with the sample:
    Date and time of purchase
  • Place where the sample was taken (name of the restaurant, stall, market, etc.) including the complete address (street, house number, postcode, city)
  • Product name (as indicated on the label or sign or menu),
  • price (per piece or 100 g or dish in the restaurant, please specify)
  • and if possible a photo of the product

All these data (except the photo) have to be enclosed when sending the product and should also be entered into a Google Drive document so that in the end a good overview of the places offering shark products for sale is created. You will get the link to the Google drive when you "register" your samples with us. Important: each sample must be clearly assigned to the information. So it is best to have one label per sample and put it together with the Eppendorf tube in a small bag!

The samples can be sent to us at any time after consultation with us. For this purpose, they should be packed in such a way that they are not damaged in transit. The name of the sender should also be written on the envelope so that the samples can be assigned to a person. And please inform us in advance when and how many samples you are sending. You will receive the address from us when you register the samples.

We will collect the samples until 24 December 2021 and then send them to the laboratory in England where they will be analysed. We will report on the results in 2022.

Many thanks to all hard-working collectors! Your Sharkproject Team.

Contact for documenting information for mapping and registering samples before shipment: proben@sharkproject.org

For dubious finds and other questions about collecting: Just send an email to the address above or to l.bernem@sharkproject.org or i.ziegler@shrakproject.org!

Text: Iris Ziegler


Mako Steak in Spanish Supermarket @Christian-2020-11-11 , Sharkproject Germany