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6.1 MEAT


Sharks have traditionally been used as food in coastal areas since the earliest times. Consumption of shark meat has been recorded in literature as early as the fourth century. The Cretans and Persians caught and sold sharks some 5 000 years ago in the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean. Until the beginning of the twentieth century shark meat consumption was rather limited and was unfavourably regarded as food in many countries. Shark meat was difficult to handle without ice or refrigeration and it so often had a strong smell and taste due to improper handling (see section on processing and preparation) that was not acceptable to consumers not accustomed to it. Shark meat was more familiar to inhabitants of fishing villages and nearby settlements in the coastal areas of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Pacific islands. It was also eaten by the Inuit and in Europe and Japan. The meat was consumed and preserved in these different countries according to their food traditions and the technologies available to them at that time. Apart from consuming the fish fresh, the most common preservation methods were drying, salting or smoking.

The commercial exploitation of sharks started after the First World War. In that period the belly flaps of picked dogfish were smoked in Germany and shark meat was introduced in the fish and chips trade (a traditional British take-away dish of deep-fried fish fillets and potato) in the UK. In the USA there was research into the tanning of shark hides and, in 1925, the Ocean Leather Corporation, a society that has monopolized the world production of shark leather for decades, was founded. Mexican and Venezuelan fishermen started to fish sharks on a commercial scale to supply hides to the US market and they also began to sell salted and/or dried shark meat in local markets. During the 1940s there was a remarkable increase in shark exploitation and in their commercial value in some areas of the world such as the USA and Europe, when the high Vitamin A content of shark liver oil was discovered. This market disappeared when synthetic Vitamin A was developed. During the liver oil boom, meat and other parts of the animal were usually discarded. This waste of raw material of 75-83% of the shark catch did not pass unnoticed by some businessmen and fisheries authorities but it was only with the development of refrigeration that the acceptance of shark meat occurred. Since the late 1950s there has been a greater use and a favourable recognition of shark meat as food. This acceptance was due to various factors such as better handling of shark meat with the use of ice and freezing, the awareness of widespread malnutrition, the need to utilize fully all available resources of animal protein for human nutrition, the contemporaneous shortage of highly preferred bony fish in some areas and marketing efforts to promote shark meat as a substitute or alternative. This increase in consumption has not been equally strong and has not followed the same pattern in all countries, with considerable differences in utilization during the last four decades. In many countries industry and/or government undertook marketing campaigns, promotional activities and market development efforts to promote shark meat and to get over consumer prejudices and reluctance to accept shark meat, which was considered unpalatable and a poor man’s food. These promotional efforts took many forms. In some countries, such as the UK, Germany and Australia, industry, without any government assistance, used shark meat and developed products or used the meat in already existing products. In other countries, as for example Japan, Canada, the USA and the former USSR, the government supported industry in one way or another, and product development, or at least product testing, was accomplished in government laboratories. Other nations such as Mexico, Mozambique, Trinidad and Tobago, Surinam, Panama and Honduras, were assisted by national or international organizations, eg. FAO. This assistance was mainly of technical nature: improving fishing and processing technologies, marketing, and distribution[28].

6.1.1 Market names

In many countries it has been necessary to camouflage the name shark under a number of euphemisms to overcome consumer resistance.

In the UK, picked dogfish was introduced and marketed as “flake” or “huss”. Nowadays, even if these two terms are still used, it is more often marketed as “rock salmon”. The term “rigg” is also used.

In France, picked dogfish, smooth-hound and tope sharks are commercialised as chiens. The skinless meat of these species is marketed as saumonette, as is sometimes the meat of small-spotted catshark and nursehound but these are usually marketed as petite roussette and grande roussette respectively, to highlight their colour. Porbeagle shark is commercialized as taupe or veau de mer.

In Germany, picked dogfish backs (whole, skinless, headed and gutted, bellies removed) are sold as seeaal (sea eel) and smoked belly flaps (skinned and trimmed) as Schillerlocken (curls of Schiller). Other shark species are sold under trade names followed by the German vernacular name of the shark species. For example, the porbeagle, Heringshai in German, appears as Kalbfish; the smooth-hound, Grauhai in German, as Speckfish. The Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus), Eishai in German, is also traded as Speckfish[29].

In Italy sharks are usually marketed as palombo (smooth-hounds), smeriglio (porbeagle and mako sharks), gattucci (catsharks), spinaroli (picked dogfish) and cani spellati. In Venice, palombo steaks are known as vitello di mare (veal of the sea). There are also reports that blue sharks are deliberately marketed as the more valuable smooth-hounds under the name palombo, and porbeagle and mako sharks as pesce spada (swordfish).

In the USA, shark was commercialized as “steakfish”, “grayfish” (usually picked dogfish) and “whitefish” from the 1940s until the government issued rules to prevent mislabelling. Now sharks are sold under their real names. More recently picked dogfish has also been marketed as “cape shark”.

In 1970 Canada began to promote Pacific dogfish (Squalus suckleyi) for domestic consumption. After successful testing and tasting of the product in government laboratories, the Government recognized the market name Kahada, the Haida Indian name for dogfish, for deep fried fillets of this species. Although the need for a trade name was considered a necessary step for its introduction, marketing efforts have not been very successful[30].

In Australia, picked dogfish and other species are marketed as “flake”. This term was first used to introduce gummy shark (Mustelus antarcticus). It sold well at a good profit and established itself as a fish of prime eating quality, so much so that the demand remained when consumers discovered that what they were eating was in fact gummy shark.

In Argentina, angelshark is commercialized as gallina del mar (chicken of the sea), and smooth-hounds as palo rosado (pink stick).

In Trinidad and Tobago hot smoked shark fillets are marketed as “sea-ham”.

Not all countries needed to disguise the shark true identity in the market place, and in any case with the increased consumption of shark meat in the last few years, it is more and more simply sold as shark.

6.1.2 Preferred species

It is particularly difficult to identify shark species preferred for their meat on a worldwide basis. There is a great variety of favourite species according to regional differences in species availability, processing and preparation techniques and consumption patterns. Yet, there are a few species whose meat is widely considered of higher quality than others, such as shortfin mako shark, thresher shark and porbeagles. Shortfin mako shark is to a wide extent recognized as the world’s best quality shark. It is particularly appreciated fresh in the USA and Europe where it is sold at prices in line with those of swordfish. It is used to prepare a high quality sashimi in Asia, especially in Japan. The quality of the meat of thresher and porbeagle is considered similar to that of swordfish and both these species are often marketed in the same form as swordfish meat, as steaks and blocks. Pelagic thresher shark and bigeye thresher shark meat is judged of lower quality as compared to that of thresher shark but it is also widely commercialized[31].

Smaller species like picked dogfish and smooth-hounds are particularly appreciated as they contain smaller amounts of urea and mercury than other species and are also easily to process. They do not usually require soaking and the fish are finned, gutted and landed as whole carcasses with the skin intact. The backs are used in Europe and Australia while fresh whole carcasses are sold in South America where they are marketed as cazon. The back represents the main body of the fish accounting for 28-30% of the total body weight. This product is exported for sale as fillets, steaks, portions and use in the fish-and-chips trade. The belly flap or nape accounts for an additional 7% of the round weight (meaning whole or live weight). Dogfish are particularly appreciated in Europe, especially in France, UK and Germany.

Blue shark is considered one of the less preferred species for human consumption due to its soft and strong flavoured meat. It is often caught as bycatch but is usually discarded, often after finning, as there is the risk that the strong odour of its flesh can contaminate that of the other fish caught. Yet, blue shark has a limited market in France, Germany, Spain, and Italy (where is marketed as the more valuable smooth-hound). In Japan blue sharks are used for the preparation of hanpen (shark paste) but only if they have been promptly processed within two hours of capture, in order to avoid its strong odour.

Salmon sharks are captured by Japanese longliners and are usually consumed in northern Honshu and in limited amounts in the rest of the country. These species are usually exported together with porbeagles to European markets.

Requiem sharks are widely distributed and represent one of the largest families of sharks. They are also one of the most economically important as many species are used for food, fins, leather etc. Particularly appreciated for the quality of its flesh is the blacktip shark, especially in the USA. Blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) is particularly favoured in Taiwan Province of China as belly meat, but it is also marketed in fresh, frozen, dried or salted form throughout the Indian, Pacific and South Pacific Oceans. Other species eaten are dusky shark, Caribbean reef shark (Carcharhinus perezi) and sandbar shark, which is the most important commercial species in the shark fishery of the south-eastern USA, as the quality of its reddish meat and its large fins are valued. Spot tail shark (Carcharhinus sorrah) is one of the preferred sharks in the markets of southern India, Maldives and Australia. The whitetip shark is consumed in North America, Europe and Asia. Tiger shark is widely marketed and particularly appreciated in the Caribbean. In the USA, Central and South America blacktip, dusky, sandbar, lemon and nurse sharks are locally consumed.

Large shark species such as tope sharks, winghead shark, longnose and velvet dogfish, are often avoided for human consumption as they can accumulate high levels of mercury and other heavy metal contaminants. Until a few years ago tope sharks had a good market in Italy, which imported them from France. The presence of high levels of mercury in some consignments led to major reductions of these imports. Tope sharks are marketed as whole frozen carcasses in Argentina, Australia and New Zealand and in dried form in Malaysia.

6.1.3 Markets and trade

According to FAO statistics, reported production of fresh, frozen and cured chondrichthyan meat and fillets increased from nearly 18 000 tonnes in 1976 to 34 500 tonnes in 1986 and 69 300 tonnes in 1997. The peak was recorded in 1993 with 70 800 tonnes. In 1997 frozen whole shark represented the major form, followed by cured sharks. In 1997 Pakistan was the main producer of shark meat with nearly 19 000 tonnes of dried, salted or in brine shark, followed by Spain, the USA, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Chile and Indonesia. In 1997 Spain was the major producer of frozen whole sharks with 12 100 tonnes, followed by Japan, the USA, Mexico and Indonesia. Production of frozen skate has dropped in the last few years from 26 500 tonnes in 1991 to 3 040 tonnes in 1997. This decline is due to the decrease in production by Portugal. Yield of shark fillets has substantially increased from 140 tonnes in 1976 to 9 820 tonnes in 1994. Since then it has declined to reach 6 800 tonnes in 1997, with the USA as main producer with 4 400 tonnes (2 500 tonnes as fresh and 2 900 tonnes as frozen).

Figure 27 World chondrichthyan production of meat and fillets by continent in 1 000 tonnes 1976-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

Exports of fresh, frozen and cured chondrichthyan meat and fillets have grown considerably from 17 600 tonnes, worth US$22.1 million in 1976 to approximately 58 600 tonnes, valued at US$131.5 million, in 1997. Whole frozen sharks (including dogfish) represent the main item with 36 200 tonnes, valued at US$75.0 million, followed by fresh and chilled sharks and frozen shark fillets. In 1997 Spain became the largest exporter with 12 400 tonnes worth US$27.4 million. Other major exporters were the USA, Japan, UK, Canada, Taiwan Province of China, New Zealand and Indonesia. Japan and Norway were the leading exporters of sharks for many years, especially to the European market.

Figure 28 World chondrichthyan exports of meat and fillets by continent in 1 000 tonnes 1976-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

Imports of chondrichthyan meat and fillets have increased from 20 500 tonnes worth US$27.5 million in 1976 to 65 800 tonnes, valued US$160.9 million in 1997. The bulk of the imports consisted of frozen whole sharks (including dogfish), nearly 38 000 tonnes, valued at US$91.8, million in 1997, followed by fresh and chilled sharks, frozen skates and frozen chondrichthyans not elsewhere identified. In 1997 Italy was much the largest importer of approximately 14 400 tonnes worth US$39.9 million. Other main importers were Republic of Korea, France, Spain, UK, USA, Japan, Germany and Netherlands. The European Union is the main importing area according to FAO statistics. This is probably also due to their better recording of this trade as compared to other nations.

Figure 29 World chondrichthyan imports of meat and fillets by continent in 1 000 tonnes 1976-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

6.1.3.1 Africa

Shark meat has been traded by various African countries, mainly East Africa and the Indian Ocean islands, for centuries and represents an important source of protein. Chondrichthyans are usually captured in artisanal fisheries. According to FAO statistics, in 1997 African production of elasmobranchs was 160 tonnes (mainly frozen sharks), representing a 71.3% decline as compared to the previous year. South Africa was the main producer with 123 tonnes, followed by Madagascar with 37 tonnes. Exports of shark meat have substantially increased in the last few years, peaking at 990 tonnes worth US$1.5 million in 1997. The great bulk of the exports consisted of frozen whole shark (902 tonnes, worth US$1.2 million), followed by fresh or chilled shark (83 tonnes, worth US$254 000). In 1997 Sao Tome and Principe was the major exporter with 273 tonnes, worth US$294 000, followed by Guinea Bissau, South Africa, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Angola and Mauritius. These figures show traces of incorrect reporting to FAO. If we consider only EU imports of shark meat and fillets from African countries[32], in 1997 they amounted to 3 178 tonnes, worth US$8.2 million. These figures exceed total African shark exports reported to FAO by nearly 2 200 tonnes. The EU represents the major market for African exports of shark meat but there are other outlets such as Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Japan. In the last nine years exports to Japan have been rather limited except from Kenya and Mozambique. In 1997 Japanese imports from Africa amounted only to 23 tonnes worth US$78 000. Other African countries that exported to Japan in the last few years were Cape Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Gambia and South Africa.

Figure 30 Africa: chondrichthyan production of meat and fillets by country in tonnes 1976-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

Figure 31 Africa: chondrichthyan exports of meat and fillets by country in tonnes 1976-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

In 1998 South Africa, Mauritius, Namibia and Mauritania were by far the leading African exporters to the EU, as shown in Table 18. In 1998 South Africa supplied 1 390 tonnes worth US$4.5 million, Mauritius 320 tonnes worth US$1.1 million, Namibia 235 tonnes, valued US$333 280 and Mauritania 208 tonnes worth US$354 900. Other major suppliers were Guinea, Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire and Mozambique. In 1998 Italy was the main outlet for African shark exports taking 1 390 tonnes worth US$4.1 million. South Africa was the leading supplier, followed by Mauritius, Mauritania, Senegal, Ghana and Kenya. Spain was another major market, taking 1 060 tonnes worth US$1.4 million. Namibia was its major supplier, providing 235 tonnes, followed by Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, Côte d'Ivoire, Mozambique and Morocco. Other major markets were Germany, Netherlands and Portugal.

Table 18 EU imports from African countries in tonnes


1988

1989

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

South Africa

772

906

1 273

1 254

799

895

553

1 022

1 320

1 058

1 387

Mauritius

34

34

44

81

86

183

159

209

559

516

320

Namibia

-

-

53

25

-

11

56

269

3

6

235

Mauritania

761

773

987

434

344

220

309

266

503

392

208

Guinea

-

-

-

-

-

1

1

52

222

93

155

Sao Tome and Principe

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

23

273

153

Morocco

444

432

424

241

280

278

192

160

188

263

132

Senegal

203

598

448

112

155

110

99

153

73

138

106

Côte d'Ivoire

-

13

-

-

1

1

62

1

3

32

91

Mozambique

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

78

Angola

-

-

-

7

-

-

-

4

6

41

54

Sierra Leone

42

35

48

69

83

67

11

-

79

42

50

Guinea Bissau

-

-

-

-

3

40

129

8

106

216

29

Equatorial Guinea

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

27

Ghana

4

10

5

28

45

41

43

12

25

50

12

Algeria

1

-

-

-

-

2

-

-

1

4

11

Kenya

-

-

-

35


-

1


5

1

9

Ethiopia

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

2

2

5

Seychelles

1

2

-

-

1

-

2

9

-

2

2

Tanzania

-

2

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

2

Cape Verde Is.

-

-

-

-

-

-

25

-

-

22

-

Gabon

-

-

-

-

-

-

23

-

-

15

-

Somalia

1

6

-

-

4

35

16

18

91

6

-

Gambia

14

2

-

-

-

11

-

-

-

4

-

Eritrea

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1

-

Zambia

1

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1

-

Réunion

-

-

11

14

-

-

49

61

102

-

-

Togo

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

18

-

-

-

Libya

-

-

2

1

-

-

1

-

-

-

-

Liberia

-

-

-

-

-

2

1

-

-

-

-

St. Helena

-

-

-

-

-

1

-

-

-

-

-

Niger

-

-

5

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Comoros

-

6

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Tunisia

22

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Cameroon

2

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Uganda

7

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Total

2 309

2 819

3 300

2 301

1 801

1 898

1 732

2 262

3 311

3 178

3 066

Source: EUROSTAT.

According to FAO statistics, in 1997 African imports of chondrichthyans were nearly 900 tonnes, worth US$ 1.1 million, of which 875 tonnes of frozen sharks. These imports represent a substantial increase as compared to 3 tonnes in 1989 when imports where reported for the first time. In 1997 Madagascar was the main importer with 575 tonnes, worth US$ 616 000, followed by Algeria and Mauritius. In Africa, Kenya and Tanzania are major consumers of shark meat, supplied from domestic landings and imports, mainly from Somalia, Yemen and Djibouti. Mombasa is an important trading centre for dry-salted shark meat. According to Barnett[33], artisanal fishermen eat shark meat extensively in Tanzania and Zanzibar and any catch excess is sold in dried and salted form. Consumption of shark meat in Somalia, Madagascar, South Africa, Seychelles and Eritrea is limited and production is usually exported within the region because supply exceeds domestic demand. According to Lovatelli[34], it was estimated that sharks represented about 40% of total Somalian fish landings in the mid-1980s and in 1994, although no landing data was available, it is believed that it may have reached 55-65%. He also reports that in Kenya dried and salted meat is sold in units of 16kg and by grades (1-6). Quality, as well as species, determines grades. Grade 1 is the highest quality and includes species such as the bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas) and the hammerhead shark. This last species is preferred for exports inside Africa. In the period Lovatelli wrote his report (1996), the export of shark meat from Somalia had dropped considerably since the outbreak of the war mainly because of the reduction in exposed traffic along the coasts of Somalia and absence of active fish traders. Dried/salted shark meat in Eritrea is entirely exported to Saudi Arabia and to East Africa via Yemen. Domestic consumption in Eritrea is mainly of small sharks along the coast.

In Africa domestic consumption of shark meat is often limited to particular coastal areas. Shark meat is preferred fresh but is usually eaten dry-salted because of its longer shelf life and ease of transportation. Ice, cold stores, processing facilities, storing plants and adequate transportation are still scarce in Africa and this results in short shelf lives for fresh marine products. Production of salted and sun dried shark meat does not require sophisticated processing and storage facilities. The typical product form is simply dried as salt is often quite expensive. The quality is frequently poor as fish drying is often done directly on the beach. The value of dried shark meat is generally half that of fresh shark meat. In the countries where the infrastructure does exist, production of frozen sharks is mainly destined for export, to Europe in particular. Consumption of shark meat is not very high due also to the African preference for meat instead of fish. Although there has been an increase in consumption of fish in the last decennium, meat is still preferred and the per capita supply of fish in Africa remains low compared to other areas of the world. According to FAO statistics[35], in 1995 the per capita supply of fish in Africa was only 6.9kg per annum, compared with 19.5kg in Oceania, 18.6kg in Europe, 17.2kg in Asia, 17.0kg in North America, 10.1kg in South America and a world average of 15.3kg.

6.1.3.2 Europe

According to FAO data, European countries represent the major markets for shark meat. This role has become more evident in the thirty years under survey. In 1997 European production was 13 400 tonnes, imports were 40 200 tonnes (worth US$98.1 million) and exports were 25 300 tonnes (worth US$62.5 million). These figures represent a substantial increase compared to 1976 when production was 4 050 tonnes, imports 19 800 tonnes (worth US$26.9 million) and exports 10 900 tonnes (worth US$13.3 million).

In 1997 the EU imported nearly 40 000 tonnes, valued at US$97.6 million, representing 99.5% in volume and 99.4% in value of the total European imports. Italy was by far the leading importer (14 400 tonnes worth US$39.9 million) followed by France (7 300 tonnes, US$17.6 million), Spain (7 200 tonnes, US$11.4 million), UK (2 800 tonnes, US$6.4 million), Germany (2 200 tonnes, US$6.2 million) and Netherlands (1 960 tonnes, US$8.1 million). According to EUROSTAT statistics, in 1997 the USA was the major supplier to the EU, 8 600 tonnes, worth US$20.5 million. Other major non EU suppliers were Singapore, Norway, South Africa, Canada, Japan, Panama, Argentina, Honduras, Mauritius and China. Spain was by far the major exporter with 12 390 tonnes worth US$27.4. Other exporters were UK, Portugal, France, Norway, Germany and Netherlands. In 1997 the EU exported nearly 23 000 tonnes of shark, worth US$58.5 million, representing 90.7% in volume and 93.5% in value of the total European exports. Exports of shark meat from EU countries are mainly intra-EU trade (72.7% in 1997). In 1997 EU exports to non-EU countries were directed mainly to Mauritius, Uruguay, Seychelles, Hong Kong and Madagascar.

Figure 32 Europe: chondrichthyan production of meat and fillets by country in tonnes 1976-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

Figure 33 Europe: chondrichthyan exports of meat and fillets by country in tonnes 1976-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

Figure 34 Europe: chondrichthyan imports of meat and fillets by country in tonnes 1976-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

In France, UK, Germany and other Northern European countries picked dogfish is the favoured species, while smooth hounds and mako sharks are preferred in southern Europe. Shark meat is usually consumed in form of fillets and steaks but in Germany there is a preference for bellies, backs and Schillerlocken (smoked belly flaps).

According to FAO statistics, Italy is far and away the leading world importer of sharks, followed by France and Spain. In 1997 more than 80% of Italian shark imports came from European countries, with Spain as the major supplier. 83% of the imports were not dogfish shark species, but porbeagle, smooth hounds etc. The great bulk of Italian shark imports are in frozen dressed-carcass form, which are processed in the country and sold as frozen steaks or fillets. Regions of North Italy show higher consumption and preference for sharks. Italian exports of sharks have always been rather marginal. In 1997 Italy exported less than 290 tonnes (worth US$786 000) according to EUROSTAT figures. Major countries of destination were Greece and Spain. Italy represents the major European market for smooth hounds (Mustelus spp.), which are sold as palombo. Other preferred species are smeriglio (mako shark but often also porbeagle), gattucci (catsharks), spinaroli and cani spellati (picked dogfish).

France is the major European consumer of shark and skate meat, which is provided by domestic landings and imports. It is second largest importer of shark meat in the world after Italy. French imports have increased substantially since 1976 when they were 4 700 tonnes worth US$6 million. France is the principal importer of dogfish in Europe. Picked dogfish comprised 89.8% of French imports of sharks in 1997. Nowadays the USA is the major supplier of sharks to France; in the past Norway played this role. The great bulk of French imports are backs and whole (head-off, tail-off, skin-off, gutted). In 1997 France exported 1 560 tonnes worth US$6.2 million. Most of the exports are directed to other EU countries with Italy as the major outlet.

The Spanish market for elasmobranchs is steadily expanding with recent growth in production, imports and exports. According to FAO statistics, in 1997 Spain was the leading exporter and the fourth largest importer of elasmobranchs in the world as far as volume is concerned. Spanish exports of fresh and frozen sharks have climbed from 1 tonne (worth US$5 000) in 1981 to nearly 12 400 tonnes (worth US$27.4 million) in 1997. In 1997 Spain imported nearly 7 200 tonnes valued at US$11.4 million. Shark meat is usually marketed skinned and gutted as steaks and fillets. Shortfin mako shark (marrajo) is the most favoured species, followed by thresher shark, tope shark (cazón), smooth hammerhead, smooth hound, picked dogfish and bigeye thresher shark. Other less valuable species are small-spotted catshark, kitefin shark, gulper sharks and blue sharks. According to EUROSTAT data, in 1997 nearly half of Spanish shark exports were directed to other EU countries plus significant amounts to Mauritius, Uruguay, Seychelles, Hong Kong, and Madagascar.

UK is one of the major European markets for picked dogfish, which are supplied by domestic landings and imports. UK shark imports were particularly strong in the mid-1980s when they peaked at 7 400 tonnes in 1987. Recently they have declined. In 1998 they were nearly 3 170 tonnes, worth US$7.8 million, with 72.2% of the imports were picked dogfish. Nowadays the USA is by far the major supplier followed by Ireland and Faeroe Islands. In the past Norway was the traditional exporter of picked dogfish to the UK. Much of the imports of fresh, whole dogfish are directed to the processing industry. Only small quantities of the processed products are for the domestic market as they are often re-exported to other European countries such as France, Belgium and Germany. The German market mainly imports belly flaps from the UK, which are then smoked to obtain the Schillerlocken, a typical German product. Domestic landings of picked dogfish are usually for domestic consumption, mainly in the fish and chips trade, especially in southern England. UK exports a significant proportion of its production, and also re-exports sharks after processing. UK exports have declined substantially in the last few years, particularly since 1993 when a year on year decrease of 52% was experienced. In 1998 exports were nearly 990 tonnes, worth US$ 3.5 million. The decline of exports is due to the increase in the US supply of picked dogfish to France, which continues to represent the principal market for UK exports of fresh whole picked dogfish. In 1998 other major markets for UK exports were Italy, Germany and Singapore.

German imports of elasmobranch have declined considerably in the last few years. They were particularly high in the early 1980s, peaking at 5 700 tonnes in 1984 according to FAO statistics. In 1997 most of the 2 200 tonnes imported were picked dogfish and catsharks, mainly in whole frozen form. In the past Japan was the major supplier to the German market but in 1997 this role was taken by South Africa, followed by the USA, Japan, Singapore, Canada and Uruguay. Most imported picked dogfish is for domestic consumption while other shark species, such as Carcharhinidae, are usually imported frozen whole and then processed and re-exported to other European countries. In Germany smoked picked dogfish backs and frozen sharks steaks of porbeagle and mako are particularly appreciated. Smooth hound also has a good market. Other species marketed are nursehound, blue shark and angelshark. There is a preference for belly flaps, generally used for smoking (Schillerlocken) but they are also sold fresh and frozen, skinned. Belly flaps are produced during the dressing of the fish and are individually skinned and washed prior to freezing. The preferred sizes are at least 30cm long and 1.25 cm wide[36]. Exports of sharks were larger in the early 1980s, peaking at nearly 3 600 tonnes in 1982. In 1997 they were about 1 400 tonnes, worth US$3.2 million. In 1997 most German shark exports were frozen and were only sent to countries within Europe. Italy was the main destination, followed by UK, Belgium and Austria.

For many years Norway was one of the major supplier of dogfish and other sharks to European countries, mainly to France, UK and to Denmark, which re-exported the totality of its shark imports to other EU countries. Home consumption of sharks is very limited and most of its catch is exported. Norwegian catches and exports of sharks were particularly significant until the early 1970s and during the 1980s. The decline in catches was due to problems linked with overfishing in previous years, the Italian policy on mercury contamination and fluctuations in the exchange rates. In 1997 Norwegian exports of fresh and frozen sharks and skates were 1 530 tonnes, worth US$2.4 million, of which the great bulk were fresh picked dogfish. Denmark represents the main outlet for these exports.

Facing scanty domestic landings of sharks and other elasmobranchs, Netherlands and Denmark are important shark traders, confirming their roles, together with Belgium, as gateways to Europe. In 1997 Dutch shark meat exports were 1 070 tonnes worth US$5.2 million. These exports were mainly frozen and 74.6% were not dogfish sharks. Netherlands exported sharks only to other EU countries with Italy receiving 89.1% of them. Imports of sharks to the Netherlands in the same year amounted to 1 960 tonnes worth US$8.1 million. Major suppliers were Canada (460 tonnes), the USA (375 tonnes), Italy (330 tonnes), Singapore (310 tonnes) and Mauritius (250 tonnes). In the past few years other major non-EU exporters of shark to Netherlands were Japan (1 380 tonnes in 1994), Ecuador, South Africa, Reunion, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Taiwan Province of China. Dutch imports of sharks have increased considerably in the 1990s, from 170 tonnes in 1990 to nearly 4 200 tonnes in 1995 but they have declined in the following two years.

Danish exports have declined in the last few years from nearly 2 000 tonnes worth US$8.9 million in 1993 to 890 tonnes worth US$4.5 million in 1997. Fresh dogfish represented 85.9% of 1997 exports and 95.3% of them were directed to other EU countries, with Italy as the main outlet. In 1997 Danish imports were about 1 500 tonnes, worth US$2.6 million. The great bulk of the imports consisted of fresh dogfish and 85.2% of the imports came from Norway. In previous years other suppliers were Sweden, Japan, Singapore and Faeroe Islands.

In 1997 Portugal exported 1 760 tonnes of sharks worth US$2.8 million, directed to Spain and Italy. Spain was the major supplier of imports, which amounted to 650 tonnes worth US$ 1.1 million in total.

6.1.3.3 Asia

Asian countries sustain the leading chondrichthyan fisheries. In 1996 their catches represented 55.4% of total world landings of these species. Consumption of and trade in chondrichthyan meat is rather limited. Shark meat is usually used in dried and salted form in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, while in East Asia it is generally used in the production of fish balls, tempura, surimi, fish sausage, fish ham, fish cakes and fish paste. According to FAO statistics, production of chondrichthyans by Asian countries amounted to nearly 33 000 tonnes in 1997, with Pakistan being by far the main producer with 19 000 tonnes. Other major producers were Japan, Indonesia, Republic of Korea and Taiwan Province of China. In 1997 Asia exported over 11 900 tonnes of chondrichthyans worth US$23.2 million. Japan was the major exporter with 3 200 tonnes, worth US$9.5 million, followed by Taiwan Province of China, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Singapore and India. Asian imports of chondrichthyan meat and fillets have increased impressively since 1976 and particularly in the 1990s. They grew from 713 tonnes, worth US$597 000 in 1976 to 18 900 tonnes, valued US$52.4 million, in 1997. Republic of Korea was the largest importer with 14 300 tonnes, followed by Japan, Singapore, China, Taiwan Province of China and Thailand.

Figure 35 Asia: chondrichthyan production of meat and fillets by country in tonnes 1976-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

Figure 36 Asia: chondrichthyan exports of meat and fillets by country in tonnes 1976-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

Figure 37 Asia: chondrichthyan imports of meat and fillets by country in tonnes 1976-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

In Japan shark meat is mainly eaten in the form of processed products, such as fish balls, fish cakes, fish sausage, tempura, surimi, fish ham and fish paste. Shark meat is rarely consumed fresh, boiled or dried. Japan is a significant trader in fresh and frozen shark meat. Major suppliers to the Japanese market are Spain, Canada, Ecuador and the USA. Exports of frozen sharks are directed to China, Republic of Korea, Peru and Spain, while frozen fillets are destined for Singapore, Republic of Korea, Mauritius, Germany and Italy. Makos, thresher and Carcharhinidae sharks have a higher economic value on the Japanese market compared with other species. The price of shark meat is not very high. According to Kreuzer and Ahmed, hoshi zame (Mustelus manazo) is a popular shark species in Japan. It is chopped up fresh and boiled in water then eaten with a vinegar and bean paste. It is also sometimes salted and dried and then cooked the same way. Nezumizame (Vulpecula marina) is boiled and sometimes roasted. Shark ovaries are used to prepare atsuyaki, a kind of fish paste[37]. In North Japan limited amounts of sharks are consumed in steak form, and the favoured species are those with fibrous meat, such as hammerhead and picked dogfish. For more information on Japan see the Japanese section.

In China shark meat is consumed in different ways such as fried, soup and fish balls. It is estimated that over half the sharks landed in China are processed into fillets and fish balls. Most of the production is for local consumption. Exports of shark meat are limited. In 1998 they amounted to 42 tonnes, directed only to Japan. In China shark meat is processed into canned meat, salted meat and shark meat balls. Large sharks are preferred for the production of shark meat balls and canned shark meat. China imports small quantities of shark meat, mainly from other Asian countries such as Japan, Singapore, Republic of Korea, Thailand and from Spain and Norway. In 1998, 310 tonnes (worth US$2.4 million) of fresh and frozen shark meat were imported. Spain was the major supplier with 160 tonnes worth US$1.1 million. More information on the Chinese market for chondrichthyans can be found in Appendix IV.4.

In Taiwan Province of China shark meat is used fresh, dried, smoked, and processed in minced products and also added to certain fish jelly products. Fish balls and tempura are particularly appreciated but the use of shark meat for making these products has decreased in the last decennium. Most of the domestic landings of sharks are exported. According to FAO statistics, in 1996 Taiwan Province of China was the major Asian exporter of shark meat, with 3 100 tonnes worth US$4 million, a role that now has been taken by Japan. In 1997 its exports were 2 800 tonnes, valued at US$4.5 million, of which 1 700 tonnes as frozen and 1 100 tonnes as fresh. Among major foreign markets are the USA, Uruguay, Republic of Korea, Philippines, Singapore and UK. Frozen fillets are usually destined for export markets such as Japan and Europe. A limited amount of shark in fresh or frozen form is also imported. In 1997 this amounted to 375 tonnes worth US$844 000. Among major suppliers are the Philippines, India, Australia and Greenland. Meat for domestic use and that for exports are processed in different ways. Sharks are skinned, headed and gutted, finned, and the cartilage is removed for both markets. For meat destined for the internal market the carcass is then cut into pieces, washed and frozen in 36kg blocks, while for the foreign market the carcass is cut into two pieces, which are then classified according to weight (40-49lbs[38] and over 50lbs), frozen and packed[39]. According to Mao[40], the meat of whale and thresher sharks is eaten. The area anterior to the dorsal fin or between the anal fin and the caudal fin is judged as the best. The belly meat of the blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) is considered to be the most exquisite.

Hong Kong is the world’s leading trading centre for shark fins and a significant consumer of shark fins but consumption of shark meat is not very high. Shark meat is involved in the production of fish balls, which are used in the preparation of certain Chinese dishes and often exported to other neighbouring countries. About 20-40% of shark meat was normally added to the cheaper varieties of fish balls. It was used in filling vegetable and soya bean products called yeong tau fu. However, with the increase in the price of shark meat it became uneconomical and shark meat has not been used for making fish balls in Hong Kong for at least two years. Traditionally the consumption of shark and ray meat in Hong Kong was not widespread. The poor and persons who lived on the waters ate them. Shark or rays were not even included in foods sold in budget eating places and definitely not in the more classy restaurants. When Hong Kong embarked on an aggressive programme of land reclamation to house its people, some groups, in particular the Tung Kah who mostly lived in boats, dispersed as a community and the eating of sharks in households seemed to disappear. However, it could be reviving, despite its traditional association with poverty, which Hong Kong persons are careful to avoid. Consumption of sharks and rays appear to be linked loosely with the different dialect groups among the Chinese. In Hong Kong, where about 98% of locals are Chinese, mainly from nearby Guangdong Province, eating shark meat is not fashionable. Imports of shark meat are very scanty and are destined mainly for re-export. Little shark meat is consumed as fillets or steaks. More information on the Hong Kong shark market can be found in Appendix IV.1.

Singapore represents the most significant trading nation in Southeast Asia. As far as sharks are concerned, Singapore is more involved in the trade and consumption of shark fins as domestic consumption of shark meat is negligible. Singapore’s shark exports have only been reported to FAO since 1995. In 1997 they amounted to nearly 1 600 tonnes, worth US$5.7 million. In the same year 1 400 tonnes were imported, valued at US$4.7 million. Singapore exports shark meat to other Asian countries and to the EU. According to EUROSTAT statistics, in 1997 Singapore exported nearly 1 500 tonnes, worth US$4.3 million, to the EU. Italy was by far the main outlet, taking 790 tonnes, followed by the Netherlands (310 tonnes), Germany (195 tonnes) and Greece (180 tonnes). Other information on the Singapore market is provided in Appendix IV.2.

According to Kreuzer and Ahmed[41], the negligible consumption of shark meat in Malaysia is due to the religious sentiment of a substantial element of the population. Statistics on exports of shark meat have been reported since 1991 when they stood at 34 tonnes worth US$42 000. Exports have not been very regular and in 1997 they amounted to 35 tonnes, worth US$15 000. Major markets for Malaysian shark are Taiwan Province of China, Singapore, Hong Kong and, in the past, also UK. Malaysia imports negligible volumes of shark meat; only 28 tonnes worth US$292 000 in 1997. Taiwan Province of China is the major supplier, followed by New Zealand. In the last few years other exporter countries have been Canada, Sri Lanka, Australia and Japan. More information on the Malaysian market can be found in Appendix IV.2.

In 1997 Republic of Korea was the second largest importer of chondrichthyan meat and fillets. Its imports have increased substantially in the last few years going from 4 600 tonnes, worth US$3.8 million, in 1988 to 14 340 tonnes, valued at US$ 25.9 million in 1997. In 1997 the great bulk of the imports consisted of frozen skates (8 550 tonnes, US$ 17.6 million), followed by frozen chondrichthyans not specified (3 100 tonnes, US$3.5 million) and frozen sharks (2 700 tonnes, US$4.8 million). Taiwan Province of China was by far the main supplier of frozen sharks with 800 tonnes, valued at US$2 million, followed by Singapore, Japan, Peru, New Zealand and Spain. In the previous years New Zealand has been the major exporter of shark meat to Republic of Korea. Shark meat does not possess a high economic value in the Republic of Korea but prices there are higher than in other East Asian countries. Shark meat is consumed by ordinary people but it is also eaten in the ancestral worship ceremony, particularly in Kyongbuk Province[42]. In 1997 Republic of Korea produced 1 610 tonnes of chondrichthyans not specified and only 39 tonnes of frozen sharks. In 1997 exports were 1 660 tonnes, worth US$1.8 million of which 39 tonnes, valued at US$28 090 were shark meat that went to China and Japan. In previous years exports of shark meat have been mainly directed to Japan and European countries such as Italy and Spain.

Indonesia is one of the major world’s catching countries for chondrichthyans. Much of Indonesian shark fisheries are small-scale fisheries with relatively small canoes and simple gear. Sharks are also captured, usually as bycatch, by industrial fisheries. While some shark species are caught for their meat (e.g. dogfish captured in the North Atlantic), most of the shark catch targets fins and tails (ekor ikan hiu in Indonesian). Recently there has been an increase in the capture of deep-sea sharks for liver oil and squalene. Shark meat is not particularly appreciated for domestic consumption but it is eaten, mainly dried, by the ordinary people. Shark meat is usually processed into dry-salted or boiled-salted (pindang) commodities. The Research Institute for Fish Technology in Jakarta explored different methods of shark utilisation, such as processing it into commodities including abon (shredded, spiced and dried), dendeng (spiced-dried satay), fish balls and sausage. Exports of shark meat have only been reported since 1990 when they amounted to 240 tonnes worth US$108 000. These exports increased substantially to peak at 9 300 tonnes (valued US$5.6 million) in 1993. Indonesian exports dropped to about 800 tonnes worth US$240 000 in 1996 but in 1997 a year on year increase of 204% was experienced and exports were 2 370 tonnes, worth US$740 000. Exports of shark meat are mainly directed to other Asian countries, with the great bulk exported to Taiwan Province of China and China and small quantities to Japan, Singapore and Europe (mainly UK). Exports of shark meat in non frozen form are not reported to FAO. Exports of fresh sharks are mainly directed to Taiwan Province of China and dried shark meat is exported to Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan, while Singapore is the main market for exports of brined shark meat. Small quantities of shark meat are imported in dried and brined form.

In Thailand shark meat is considered of poor quality and it is mainly consumed by less wealthy people. Shark flesh is usually eaten in salted or sweetened form and processed in fish balls that are popular among the Thais. Exports of shark meat are directed to Singapore, China and, in previous years, to European countries such as Greece, Italy and Sweden. In 1997 exports were less than 500 kilograms, while in 1996 Thailand exported 200 tonnes, valued at US$503 000, of frozen sharks of which 94.4% went to Singapore and the rest to Hong Kong. In the same year 415 tonnes of frozen sharks were imported. Canada was by far the main supplier with 180 tonnes, followed by Denmark, Germany, the USA and Australia. In 1997 Thai imports of shark meat were 300 tonnes, worth US$ 342 000.

India is the world’s leading catching country for chondrichthyans. Shark meat is usually consumed dried and salted and domestic consumption is not very high. The great demand is in Kerala where shark meat represents a stable diet for poor people. Shark meat is essential to the wedding parties of the Edavar (a tribe from North Malabar) and Muslims mainly of Calicut region[43]. In 1996 India exported 950 tonnes (worth US$3.9 million) of chondrichthyans of which 580 tonnes (worth US$512 000) were frozen sharks and 370 tonnes (worth US$3.3 million) were dried, salted or in brine elasmobranch not identified. In the period April 1996-March 1997[44], exports of frozen whole sharks amounted to 40 tonnes and were directed only to the UK. Exports of 136 tonnes of frozen shark fillets went mainly to the UK, followed by China, Hong Kong, Singapore, United Arab Emirates and Switzerland. Indian exports reported by FAO statistics are incomplete: 40 tonnes in 1996 and 142 tonnes in 1997.

Pakistan was the leading world producer of shark meat in 1997 according to FAO statistics, with 19 000 tonnes of dried, salted and in-brine sharks. No export statistics are available as dried, salted and in-brine shark meat is included with other fish species. In 1997 Pakistan reported only less than 500 kilograms of exports of fresh and frozen shark meat to FAO.

6.1.3.4 North and Central America

Production of elasmobranchs by North and Central American countries has increased considerably, particularly in the last decennium, and peaked at 20 200 tonnes in 1995 to decrease since then. In 1997 15 600 tonnes were produced, of which 65.1% was from the USA. Other major producers are Canada and Mexico. Exports have skyrocket since 1981, going from 5 tonnes (worth US$13 000) to 13 400 tonnes (worth US$31.1 million) in 1997. The USA is by far the major exporter with more than 9 200 tonnes, worth US$23.7 million. Other significant exporters were Canada, Costa Rica and Mexico. In 1997 imports were more than 3 900 tonnes, worth US$ 7.0 million. The USA was the leading importer with 2 600 tonnes, valued at US$5.2 million, followed by Canada, Mexico and Guatemala.

The USA has become an important consumer and trader of shark meat, which has only quite recently received wide consumer acceptance as seafood there. Before the 1970s shark meat consumption in the USA was rather limited, with small markets in coastal areas which were supplied by small local fisheries. US shark production increased considerably in the last few years, to a maximum of nearly 15 000 tonnes in 1995, but has subsequently declined. In 1997 US production was nearly 10 200 tonnes of which 4 700 tonnes were frozen sharks, 2 900 tonnes frozen shark fillets and 2 500 tonnes fresh or chilled shark fillets. Mako, common thresher, Pacific angel shark, soupfin, bonito, blacktip and sandbar are the preferred species for domestic consumption. Despite various attempts to encourage domestic consumption of dogfish, this product is not appreciated in the USA where it is marketed as "grayfish". Dogfish are imported fresh from Canada and after processing they are re-exported mainly to Europe (France, UK, Germany etc.). Imports of other shark species come mainly from Mexico, Ecuador, Canada, and other Central and Latin American countries. Most exports are directed to the EU and consist mainly of picked dogfish; larger specimens are preferred. Other important destinations for US shark exports are Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Singapore and Mexico. More information on the US market for sharks is provided in the US section.

Shark meat is not widely consumed in Canada. Mako shark is the most favoured shark species for local consumption and it is also exported in steak form to the USA. Porbeagle, blue sharks and dogfish are usually exported to Europe. Dogfish are also exported to the USA, mainly fresh, where they are processed and re exported, primarily to Europe. There is at least one company that produces dried salted blue sharks for the West Indies and Africa[45]. In 1997 Canada produced 1 230 tonnes of frozen sharks and exported 2 800 tonnes, valued at US$4.6 million of which 1 610 tonnes of fresh sharks and 1 230 tonnes of frozen sharks. In 1997 the USA was the only market for fresh sharks, while in the previous years small quantities were also directed to France, Japan, UK, Belgium and the Netherlands. Japan was the main destination for Canadian frozen sharks followed by France, Netherlands, Germany, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea and Thailand. In 1997 Canada imported 690 tonnes, worth US$1.4 million of fresh and frozen sharks. The Canadian Government supported the fishing industry to stimulate the production and marketing of picked dogfish.

In Mexico consumption of shark meat is widespread. It is marketed fresh, frozen, smoked, dried and salted. Shortfin mako and thresher sharks are particularly appreciated and are usually headed and gutted and then frozen for export or processed into fillets, dried and salted for the domestic market. Small shark species are usually sold fresh and whole. Tiger and nurse sharks are generally sold in local markets as dried and salted fillets. In 1997 Mexico produced 4 200 tonnes of sharks of which 3 350 tonnes as frozen, and 870 tonnes ad dried, salted or in brine. There is a significantly important trade in sharks between Mexico and the USA. Mexican exports are entirely directed to the USA and probably consist of shortfin mako, thresher, bigeye thresher and pelagic thresher[46]. In 1997 Mexico exported 570 tonnes, worth US$559 000, and imported 222 tonnes, valued at US$207 000, of fresh and frozen sharks.

Sharks represent a little used marine resource in the Caribbean where they are often regarded as low status fish with the exception of Trinidad and Tobago. Here the most popular shark product is salted dried, which is used as a substitute for salted dried cod, very popular in the Caribbean. Other products used are fresh, frozen, salted sun-dried shark fillets, sea-ham (hot-smoked shark fillets). Freshly smoked "sea-ham" served in sandwiches or as party-bites is widely accepted and shark meat is prepared in many ways such as fried with lime, onions or garlic. Curried shark is favoured by Creoles and East Indians who prepare the meat with the traditional spices. A popular snack is fried shark combined with a hot roll or bun called hops, spices and a hot sauce[47]. The most popular shark species available in Trinidadian fish markets is the small blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus), while the bull shark is considered the most valuable. Other common species are hammerheads.

Figure 38 North and Central America: chondrichthyan production of meat and fillets by country in tonnes, 1976-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

Figure 39 North and Central America: chondrichthyan exports of meat and fillets by country in tonnes, 1976-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

Figure 40 North and Central America: chondrichthyan imports of meat and fillets by country in tonnes, 1976-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

6.1.3.5 Latin America

In Latin America[48] domestic consumption of shark meat is significant in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Peru. Fresh or chilled fillets and salted dried cuts are the preferred product forms. Fillets have their own market niches, while the latter have a limited and seasonal consumption as a substitute for imported products. Steaks are often sold under the names of more expensive fish such as tuna. Exports consist mainly of whole eviscerated, headed and gutted and fillets in fresh or frozen forms. Elasmobranch production by Latin American countries was 4 500 tonnes in 1997, according to FAO statistics. Chile was by far the main producer with 2 600 tonnes of which 2 460 tonnes were frozen skates. Other major producers were Uruguay, Argentina, Peru and Colombia. Exports of elasmobranchs amounted to 4 200 tonnes, worth US$6.9 million. They have increased significantly since the mid-1980s. In 1997 Ecuador was the main exporter with 1 900 tonnes, followed by Uruguay, Argentina and Chile. In 1997 imports were 1 840 tonnes, worth US$2.1 million, representing a substantial increase as compared to the 354 tonnes, valued at US$355 000 in 1996. Uruguay was by far the main importer, accounting for 70.7% of total imports, followed by Brazil and Venezuela.

Figure 41 South America: chondrichthyan production of meat and fillets by country in tonnes, 1976-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

Figure 42 South America: chondrichthyan exports of meat and fillets by country in tonnes, 1976-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

Figure 43 South America: chondrichthyan imports of meat and fillets by country in tonnes, 1976-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

Brazil is the main market for shark products in Latin America. About 90% of its landings are sold fresh or chilled, from the simple eviscerated to fillets, while frozen products are destined for export. The wholesale markets in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro mainly offer eviscerated products. Processing of dried/salted skate and angelfish wings is very extensive. Salted/dried shark fillets are traditional products, used as a substitute for the Norwegian cod klipfish. In 1997 Brazil imported 280 tonnes, valued at US$352 000 and exported 37 tonnes, worth US$38 000.

Ecuador was the main Latin American exporter of elasmobranchs with 1 900 tonnes worth US$3.2 million in 1997. These exports mainly consisted of frozen (62.5%) and fresh (37.4%) dogfish. The main markets for these exports are the USA, Europe and Japan.

In Argentina the domestic market for shark meat is usually limited to major cities, in particular to Buenos Aires. Fresh fillets can be easily found in shops and supermarkets with smooth hounds as the preferred species followed by angel shark (Squatina argentina). A limited and rather artisanal production of dried/salted shark meat (mainly smooth hounds) takes place during the Lent period for Holy Week sales, as a substitute for Norwegian klipfish. In 1997 Argentina exported 680 tonnes of sharks worth US$1.1 million, mainly to Brazil, Italy and Spain, mostly in the forms of frozen headed and gutted and fillets. The main species exported were smooth hounds and vitamin/tope sharks (Galeorhinus vitaminicus). In 1997 Argentina produced 670 tonnes of frozen and dried, salted or in brine sharks.

In Chile the most common products from sharks are headed and gutted (troncos) and steaks (rodajas). Domestic consumption of shark is not very high. Sharks are usually marketed fresh and often under the name of swordfish. According to Caro Ros[49], in the period Jan-Nov 1997, Chile exported about 2 200 tonnes of elasmobranchs worth US$6.1 million. The bulk of these exports consisted of skate. Frozen skate wings are exported to Spain, Republic of Korea and France. Exports of sharks as frozen headed and gutted and steaks were directed to Europe (Italy, Netherlands, Spain and Germany), Japan and the USA. There are also small exports of fresh/chilled elasmobranchs to the USA and of salted/dried cuts to other Latin American countries (Brazil, Ecuador and Bolivia). FAO statistics do not report Chilean exports of skates and in 1997 exports of sharks of this country were 275 tonnes, worth US$ 637 000.

Most of the Peruvian catch of elasmobranchs is for the domestic market as fresh/chilled whole fish or fillets. Consumption of cured products has its peak period during Holy Week. Spain is the main market for Peruvian shark. The most representative product is frozen headed and gutted, individually wrapped in plastic bags. In 1997 Peru exported only 11 tonnes, worth US$16 000 of shark products.

In Uruguay consumption of smooth-hound fillets is very extensive and consumers rank it second in preferences for fish, following hake fillets, and the price is the same as for hake (US$2.47/kg in March 1998). Chilled and frozen steaks of mako, sandtiger shark and blue shark, which are usually sold as tuna or swordfish, are also consumed. The once rather prolific production of salted/dried products has declined considerably in recent years and only amounted to 20 tonnes in 1997. In 1997 Uruguay produced 890 tonnes of fresh and frozen sharks. In the same year exports were 1 330 tonnes, valued at US$1.9 million. The bulk of these exports consisted of frozen sharks. Brazil takes most of the exports, with the remainder going to Germany, USA and Puerto Rico. In 1997 Uruguay has increased substantially its imports of elasmobranch, going from 137 tonnes, worth US$90 000 in 1996 to 1 300 tonnes, valued at US$ 1.5 million.

More information on this area can be found in the Latin American section in Appendix IV.5.

6.1.3.6 Oceania

In 1997 the production of fresh and frozen sharks in the countries of Oceania was nearly 2 700 tonnes. In that year their exports amounted to over 2 700 tonnes, worth US$6.2 million, while imports were 51 tonnes, valued at US$107 000.

Figure 44 Oceania: chondrichthyan production of meat and fillets by country in tonnes, 1976-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

Figure 45 Oceania: chondrichthyan exports of meat and fillets by country in tonnes, 1976-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

Figure 46 Oceania: chondrichthyan imports of meat and fillets by country in tonnes, 1976-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

Chondrichthyans have traditionally played an important role in the diet of coastal Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders[50]. The largest catch is off southern Australia, which primarily captures school sharks (Galeorhinus galeus) and gummy sharks (Mustelus antarcticus). This latter is the main species consumed locally. Sharks are sold in fillet form and used in the fish and chip market. They are often marketed as flake. The meat of gulper sharks (Centrophorus granulosus), leafscale gulpers and of shortnose or picked spurdogs (Squalus megalops) is smoked, dried and salted for human consumption. Spotted wobbegong (Orectolobus maculatus) is appreciated for meat and other wobbegong species are sometimes sold[51]. Tope sharks are also marketed as whole frozen carcasses. Aborigines eat the blacktip reef shark as buundhdhaar, in which the liver and meat are boiled separately and successively minced and mixed together. Imports of shark meat in Australia are limited and more than half comes from New Zealand.

New Zealand is the major producer and exporter of shark meat in Oceania. In 1997 it produced nearly 2 700 tonnes (1 500 tonnes of frozen sharks and 1 200 tonnes of fillets) and exported 2 730 tonnes worth US$6.2 million (1 450 tonnes of frozen sharks, 1 200 tonnes of frozen shark fillets and the rest were fresh or chilled sharks). Exports are mainly directed towards Australia and various Asian countries such as Republic of Korea, Malaysia and Japan. New Zealand also exports limited volumes of shark meat to European countries such as Belgium (whole school shark and rig), Germany and Russia. Australia is the main market for school sharks and rig or spotted dogfish (Mustelus lenticulatus), Republic of Korea is the market for picked dogfish and Japan for ghost sharks. In 1997 New Zealand imported 51 tonnes, worth US$105 000 of elasmobranchs. The great bulk of these imports consisted in fresh or frozen skates. Imports of sharks are limited and come from Australia, Malaysia, China and Taiwan Province of China. Rig, school sharks and picked dogfish are consumed by the domestic market. Sharks are usually used in the fish and chips trade and are often sold under market names such as pearl fillets for ghost sharks and lemonfish for rig[52].

In the Solomon Islands shark meat is processed by filleting and then cutting into thin strips that are successively salted and sun dried or smoked. Sharks are usually eaten by small-scale artisanal fishers, generally made into soup[53]. Shark is not eaten in many areas of Fiji because of traditional taboos on its use, but it is accepted in the Rotum and Rabi communities[54].

6.1.4 Prices

Table 19 lists prices for fresh and frozen shark by selected species and countries in the period January-April 1999

Table 19 Indicative prices for shark meat in US$/kg

Species

Product form and grading

Grading

Price

Price reference and area

Origin

Picked dogfish

Frozen, backs, skinless

1-2 kg/pc

9.91

Italy, cif

UK

Chilled

1-2 kg/pc

8.13



Frozen, back, skinless

1-2 lb/pc

1.76


Denmark

> 2

2.31



Frozen, backs

1-2 lb/pc

2.23

France, cif

USA

Frozen, back, skinless

< 400 gr/pc

2.09



400-800

2.38



Frozen, back, skinless

> 800 gr/pc

3.31

UK, cif wholesale


Fresh, skinned

Medium

7.45


UK

Large

8.30



Frozen, skinned


2.66



Frozen, belly flaps

< 6 pc/kg

1.87

Germany, cif

USA

6-10

2.53



> 10

3.09



Fresh


0.94

New York (USA), wholesale


Blue

Frozen, headed and gutted

10-40 kg/pc

1.60

Germany, c&f

Morocco

Frozen, headed & gutted

10-30 kg/pc

1.00


Peru

Mako

Frozen, headed & gutted

10-30 kg/pc

2.60



Frozen


1.37

Playa, Guayaquil, wholesale

Ecuador

Frozen


3.62

Miami (USA), c&f


Tope

Fresh

1 kg/pc

0.58

Spain, cif

Spain

Frozen, whole

Medium

0.93

São Paulo (Brazil), wholesale

Brazil

Large

1.38



Narrownose smooth-hound

Frozen, whole


0.77



Angel

Frozen, whole

Large

1.38



Frozen, whole

Medium

2.16

Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), wholesale


Large

1.20



Thresher

Fresh, head. & gutt. (air-flown)


2.18

Miami (USA), c&f

Costa Rica

Frozen, loin skin-on


3.26



Frozen, loin skin-off


3.35



Frozen, headed & gutted


2.58


Ecuador

Frozen, headed & gutted


0.49

Playa, Guayaquil, wholesale


Fresh


1.38

New York (USA), wholesale

USA

Blacktip

Fresh, whole


1.84



Shark nei

Fresh, whole, fresh


0.66

Abidjan (Côte d'Ivoire), auction

Côte d'Ivoire

Frozen, headed & gutted


1.30

Europe, c&f

Peru





Source: INFOFISH Trade News; INFOPECHE Nouvelles Commerciales, INFOPESCA Noticias Comerciales; GLOBEFISH European Fish Price Report; NY Fulton Fish Market, Rungis, Billingsgate.

6.1.5 Processing and preparation

The meat cannot be properly preserved unless adequate handling practices have been applied from the time the shark is caught. Sharks have urea and trimethylamine in their blood and tissues, substances that help sharks to maintain their osmotic balance. Urea must be removed by bleeding the shark immediately after capture. If this is not promptly done, the urea will degrade into ammonia which will contaminate the shark’s flesh. Urea is a non-toxic by-product of protein metabolism which is formed in the blood and body fluid of all marine fish both bony and cartilaginous. The only difference is that the bony fish excrete urea quickly while sharks retain it in their blood. As a result the blood has a higher osmotic concentration than that of the bony fish and absorbs fresh water through membranes by osmosis[55]. The intensity of urea varies by age and species. According to Gordievskaya[56], sharks have various urea concentrations which are species-characteristic. Picked dogfish is said to have the lowest urea content (1 570 mg%), while hammerheads have the highest (2 330 mg%). Urea is not dangerous but it gives the meat a particular smell and a somewhat bitter and acid taste. This affects either the choice of species for human consumption or the processing techniques. With the difference in the urea concentration, the intensity of the smell and taste differs between species. Accordingly, some species need a more thorough treatment than others, in order to reduce the urea content.

The first step for proper handling is bleeding the sharks immediately after they are caught. Sharks have to be brought in live or not left too long in the water after death. The second step frequently is washing and soaking the meat in fresh water, salt brine or an acid solution for a greater elimination of urea and its breakdown products. The urea content can also be reduced by heat treatment (blanching, baking, sterilization), and by pickling. According to Gordievskaya[57], if shark meat is pickle-cured and subsequently soaked, 79-90% of its urea content is removed. Very fresh meat of species like picked dogfish that contain the lowest level of urea content, does not require soaking, while that of species like hammerheads have to be soaked in brine for several hours. Thirdly, the sharks have to be iced or frozen to delay and prevent bacteriological growth. They have to be protected against the rays of the sun and to be kept cold, below 1oC interior temperature. According to Kreuzer and Ahmed[58], species such as picked dogfish are not bled in the North American fisheries but, immediately after capture, put on ice or frozen. They are often landed as whole carcasses with the skin intact. Fresh and frozen shark meat is usually prepared as whole carcasses (headed and gutted), split carcasses, fillets and blocks for storage and shipment.

Small species are usually preferred for meat as they usually have lower concentration of urea and mercury in their flesh and are also easier to process. Sharks have no rib case, in contrast to bony fish. The muscles are attached directly to the skin. This, and the robust fibrous structure of the skin, are the causes of the hard work involved in skinning big sharks. Furthermore, the scales of the sharks are small placoid plates called dermal denticles. These natural features cause delay in processing large sharks and these delays have to be taken into consideration when planning the utilization of the meat of skinned large sharks for human consumption[59].

Where there are no available facilities for immediate refrigeration or freezing or when there is a surplus of shark meat which cannot be sold fresh, sharks are more commonly filleted and then salted and dried, or smoked. The fillet form is preferred in order to minimize the time for salting and drying the shark meat. Fillets are often sun-dried. Dried and salted shark meat is widely consumed in eastern and southern Africa, and in the Caribbean. In Germany belly flaps are smoked and prepared as Schillerlocken, a gourmet speciality which is relatively expensive.

Shark meat is used for the production of minced fish products such as fish balls, fish cakes, fish sausage, tempura, surimi, fish ham and fish paste which are particularly appreciated in East Asia

Smaller shark species are also, but quite rarely, sold live.

6.1.6 Composition and nutritional value

Shark meat represents a valuable source of protein, which varies according to the species as can be seen in Table 20

Table 20 Chemical composition of shark meat

Species

Moisture

Protein

Fat

Mineral substances

Horn

79.6

17.7

0.3

1.8

Copper

75.8

18.9

0.1

0.6

White tipped

76.9

19.9

0.3

1.3

Hammerhead

75.6

21.6

0.2

1.6

Silky

73.6

21.7

-

1.2

Tiger

79.4

16.3

0.1

0.6

Source: Gordievskaya, Shark flesh in the food industry, 1971


[28 ]KREUZER R., AHMED R., “Shark utilization and marketing” FAO, Rome, 1978.
[29 ]LUDORFF W., “Fische und Fisherzeugnisse”, 2., völlig neubearb. und erw. Aufl. Von V. Meyer, Berlin, Parey, (Grundlagen und Fortschritte der Lebensmitteluntersuchung, Bd.6), 1973
[30 ]KREUZER R., AHMED R., idem.
[31 ]ROSE D.A., “An overview of world trade in sharks and other cartilaginous fishes”. TRAFFIC International, 1996.
[32] Source: EUROSTAT.
[33] BARNETT R, "The shark trade in mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar" in "Shark fisheries and trade in the western Indian and southeast Atlantic oceans", in "The World trade in sharks: a compendium of TRAFFIC's regional studies", volume I, TRAFFIC, 1996.
[34] LOVATELLI A., "EC rehabilitation programme for Somalia. Artisanal fisheries: Final Report", European Commission Somalia unit, Nairobi, Kenya, 1996.
[35] LAURETI E., "Fish and fishery products: world apparent consumption statistics based on food balance sheets (1961-1995)", FAO Fisheries Circular No. 821, Revision 4, Rome, 1998.
[36] KREUZER R., AHMED R., idem.
[37] GORDIEVSKAYA V.S. "Shark flesh in the food industry", US Department of Commerce, National technical information service, Springfield, 1973.
[38] 1lb (pound)=454g
[39] TSAI C.H., "Frozen shark" in WU C.S. (ed.), "The status of Taiwan's fishery processing industry", Taiwan Province of China Fishery Bureau, Taipei, 1990, in Chinese, reported by CHEN G.C.T., LIU K.M., JOUNG S.J., PHIPPS M.J , "TRAFFIC report on shark fisheries and trade in Taiwan", in "The world trade in sharks: a compendium of TRAFFIC's regional studies, vol. I, TRAFFIC, 1996.
[40] MAO, J.J., "Shark products and processing in southern Taiwan: a TRAFFIC East Asia-Taipei field report", Unpublished report (in Chinese), reported by CHEN G.C.T., LIU K.M., JOUNG S.J., PHIPPS M.J , idem.
[41] KREUZER R., AHMED R., idem.
[42] KANG S., pers. comm., 1996 in PARRY-JONES R. "TRAFFIC report on shark fisheries and trade in the Republic of Korea", TRAFFIC report on shark fisheries and trade in the East Asian region, TRAFFIC, 1996.
[43] FAHMEEDA HANFEE, "The trade in sharks and shark products in India: a preliminary survey", TRAFFIC India.
[44 ]“Monthly statistics of the foreign trade of India”. Vol 1 Exports and re-exports. Directorate general of commercial intelligence & statistics. Ministry of commerce. Government of India. Calcutta. 1997.
[45] ROSE D., "Shark fisheries and trade in the Americas", TRAFFIC, North America, 1998.
[46] ROSE D., 1998, idem.
[47] ADAMS. J.E., "The much maligned shark: A study of shark consumption in the south-eastern Caribbean", from "Ecology of food and nutrition", vol. 19, Gordon and Breach Science Publishers, Inc., UK, 1986
[48] Part of the following information on the Latin America countries is extracted from the study of CARO ROS J.S., “Sharks and rays in Latin America”, Appendix IV.5.
[49] CARO ROS J.S., idem.
[50] LAST P.R. , STEVENS J.D., "Sharks and rays of Australia", CSIRO, Australia, 1994.
[51] ROSE D., 1996, idem.
[52] HAYES E. "New Zealand overview", chapter 3 of "The Oceania region's harvest, trade and management of sharks and other cartilaginous fish: an overview" in "The world trade in sharks: compendium of TRAFFIC's regional studies", volume II, TRAFFIC, 1996.
[53] MATTHEW P., “Solomon Islands, Western Province overview”, chapter 4 of SANT G. HAYES E., “The Oceania Region’s harvest, trade and management of sharks and other cartilaginous fish: an overview”, in ”The world trade in sharks: a compendium of TRAFFIC’s regional studies”, volume II, 1996.
[54] HAYES E., "Oceania overview", chapter 1 of "The Oceania region's harvest, trade and management of sharks and other cartilaginous fish: an overview" in "The world trade in sharks: compendium of TRAFFIC's regional studies", volume II, TRAFFIC, 1996.
[55 ]KREUZER R., AHMED R., idem.
[56 ]GORDIEVSKAYA V.S., “Shark flesh in the food industry”, Israel program for scientific transl., IPST cat. No. 60080 2., 1973.
[57 ]GORDIEVSKAYA V.S., idem.
[58 ]KREUZER R., AHMED R., idem.
[59 ]KREUZER R., AHMED R., idem.

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