Thresher shark sale backfires for farm shop


An Exeter farm shop felt the collective backlash of an environmentally conscious community this weekend, when it tried to promote a 15’ Thresher shark on sale at its fish counter, writes Nathan Hill.

Within hours of promoting an image on its Facebook page of the fish laid on an ice-packed fish counter, public opinion turned on the store with an endless string of furious tirades.

Chief amongst the concerns of those protesting was the endangered (actually vulnerable) status of the fish in question. When a tiny handful of commenters tried to make light-hearted banter by citing reference to Tartare sauce and chips, the ecologically concerned public quickly tore into them. Further concerns raised were the potential of mercury, PCB and ciguatoxicity issues to consumers.

Greendale Farm Shop, near Farringdon in Exeter has subsequently removed its Facebook page after trying in vain to delete the stream of criticism levelled against it.

Thresher sharks, though not listed as protected from fishing, are considered a vulnerable species according to IUCN, and are red-listed accordingly. The level of threat for the sharks even varies according to region, with some populations considered Near Threatened, whilst other regions are Data Deficient.

The catch raised further debates (which were unfortunately quashed before they could gain momentum) about whether the fish was a deliberate haul, or an accidental by-catch. With Greendale owning their own fishing boats, it remains unclear whether this fish was purchased in from another vessel, or was seized by one of their own.

In the wake of closing its main Facebook page, a fuming public seems to have turned its rage towards Tripadvisor.

Stacefaceace comments on Tripadvisor: "I am outraged that this shop are selling endangered Thresher shark. These animals are on the IUCN Red List as 'vulnerable'. Their excuse is that it is bycatch.

"Well, if it was, then they need to seriously rethink their fishing methods. Not only did they catch, land and are now selling this animal, they seemed to be reveling [sic] in it, showing no remorse whatsoever.

"Other species on the Red List under 'vulnerable' include the African elephant, cheetah, hippo, lion, red panda...the list goes on. Would you sell and promote the consumption of these animals as you have this shark? Disgraceful."

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