"THE GLOBAL SHARK CONSERVATION INITIATIVE"

                                                                                                          Sharks need us to work together!

Letter for supermarkets selling shark meat.

Whenever you come across shark meat for sale in any supermarket, wherever you may live in the world, please feel free to use this letter template to contact that supermarket, asking for them to reconsider the sale of shark and giving reasons why they should stop selling it,(along with the names & dates of the according study author.)
Simply copy, paste, fill in the blanks with the supermarket's name, the managers name (if known,) and your name at the end, then send to the supermarket concerned. You can find contact details or a "contact us" section for most supermarkets on Google.
Thanks for caring for sharks!!
Dear _______,
It has always been my opinion that the supermarket chain, "__________" has consistantly proposed the sale of quality foodstuffs, keen to safeguard clients' health and promote food security. Setting standards in food traceability and adhering to rigourous safety guidelines is synonymous with your ensign, which is why you might understand my surprise and consternation to find that shops in your chain are serving shark meat.

While it is widely accepted that consuming fish is beneficial to people's health, the same thing unfortunately cannot be said for shark.As carnivorous animals at the summit of the food-chain, sharks consume, assimilate and accumulate, via their prey and the smaller organisms they themselves eat, large quantities of toxins and pollutants that have been finding their way into the oceans for over seven decades, and only recently have serious studies been made to identify them.

Persistant Organic Pollutants (POPs) are compounds that resist natural degradation processes, they are water soluble and have a high molecular mass which renders them resistant. Many are halogenated with Chlorine which also increases their resistance to being broken down and being lipo-soluble, they can pass through phospholipid membranes and bioaccumulate in the fatty tissues of all animals. (Ritter, Soloman, Forget, Stemeroff & O'Leary for the UNEP- 2007.) Pesticides, solvents, pharmaceuticals and polyvinyl chlorides are among the many POPs that can be found in the environment and in living organisms, and studies show that they are linked with neuro-behaviour dysfunction, diseases of the immune, reproductive and endocrine systems, and links have been shown relatings POPs to diabetes. (Lee, Song, Steffes, Toscano, Baker & Jacobs- 2006.)

Also found in shark tissues are high levels of heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. Cadmium in large quantities is responsible for renal function problems and itai-itai disease. (Nogana, Koji, Kobayashi, Okubo & Suwazono- 2004.) It is one of six substances banned by the European Union's Restriction of Hazardous Substances. (Eur-lex-europa- April 2011.) Lead is also banned by the EU's RoHS as this neurotoxin causes learning disabilities. It permanently reduces the cognitive capacities of children who have been exposed to a very low level of lead. (Needleman, Schell, Belinger, Leviton & Alread- 1990.) Lead also causes microlytic anemia, as it inhibits ferrochelatase and iron absorption. (Cohen, Trotzky, Pincus- 1981.)

However, the most toxic of the heavy metals accumulated in shark is mercury, which becomes organic methylmercury by the action of anaerobic organisms that live in all aquatic environments. Methylmercury is not readily eliminated by organisms and is biomagnified throughout the aquatic food-chain, at each step its concentration in living organisms increases. Levels in apex predators such as shark, swordfish, large tuna and marlin can be up to one million times more concentrated than levels in the surrounding water. (Wiener, Krabbenhoft, Heinz & Scheuhammer- 2003.) It takes five months for an organism to totally eliminate methylmercury which has a half-life of 72 days, so the repetitve consumption of predators leads to bioaccumulation. The EPA's toxicology department has set the legal limit of methylmercury at 0.1µg/Kg of body weight, which is 7µg for a 70Kg (150Lb) person. Shark can contain 1400µg of methylmercury/ Kg which means that a normal sized shark steak of 250g contains 350µg- fifty times the legal limit. (Heumann- 2010.) It takes 4 months to be eliminated from the human organism as its half-life in human blood is 50 days. Methylmercury causes an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack, (Weihe, Nielsen, Petersen, Grandjean et al.-2009,) and as a virulent neurotoxin, is responsible for Minamata disease, (Weiss, Myers & Davidson- 2004,) as well as cerebral dysfunction, memory loss, sensory impairment and parathesia. The IQ of young children having been exposed to methylmercury is noticably lower than those who haven't and since it crosses the placenta, it causes foetal brain damage, malfomation, speech impediments, hearing impairment and blindness. (Hightower & Moore- 2003.) Not only does it also cause sterility in male mammals, including humans, but in a population of birds where methylmercury consumption was elevated, males snubbed females and constructed nests with other males. (Frederick- 2010.)

The "_________" supermarkets are also known to be highly concerned with environmental issues, sustainability etc. Sharks have become highly endangered due to the intensive fishing of these last few decades to satisfy the Asian desire for sharkfin soup. Up to a hundred million sharks were caught annually, over 75% of them uniquely for their fins in the barbaric practise of shark-finning where the animals fins are sliced off and it is thrown back into the sea, unable to propulse itself to feed or breathe, its death is slow and painful. Since anti-finning laws have come into place in Europe and the United States, sharks are now required to be landed with their fins attached. However, being worth up to $600 a kilo, sharks are still being targetted for their fins, only now, there is a glut of meat worth considerably less ($3.00/Kg) to be distributed. (Clarke- 2007.) The sheer volume of shark meat indicates that the slaughtering of millions of sharks continues, only the clients of world supermarkets and restaurants are now the unwitting accomplices, since they are expected to consume the worthless, yet, as we have already seen, toxic meat.

Sharks cannot keep up with this rate of slaughter. They are unlike fish, who lay hundreds of thousands of eggs after rapidly acheiving maturity. Sharks are slow growing, they mature very late, (at around 12- 20 years, depending on the species,) they give birth to a small number of pups, (2-40, depending on the species) every few years. In the few countries where shark catches are recorded, there is an alarming decrease in their numbers in certain areas, and those sharks caught are, on average, smaller individuals. They have twice the fishing extinction risks of bony fish (Myers & Worms- 2005,) and their rebound potential is 14- 1.7% (Smith- 1998.) Some species have had their populations reduced by up to 95% and their extinction may be foreseen within the decade.

But sharks are essential to the wellbeing of the world's oceans. Firstly, they control all the fish beneath them on the food-chain, keeping the predator/prey ratios stable. Too many smaller animals consume the phytoplankton which absorbs 80% of the planet's CO2 and emits 70% of the world's oxygen. The unabsorbed CO2 remains in the atmosphere increasing the greenhouse gas volume which accelerates global warming. Sharks also maintain healthy fishstocks by removing only weak and sick specimens thus ensuring a vigourous genepool. In the North Line Islands, the inhabited Tabuseran and Kiritimati no longer have sharks and the only fish to be found on their reefs are small, planktivorous and commercially uninteresting species. On the neighbouring, uninhabited Kingman and Palmyra reefs, the shark populations are intact and there is an abundance of many fish populations. (Robbins- 2006, Sandin- 2008 & Heupel- 2009.) In order to maintain a supply of fish sufficiently adequate to satisfy your customers' requirements, you should refuse to sell shark.

Making the decision to no longer sell shark, and explaining why to your customers would be seen as a great publicity move for you. You would be seen as being environmentally responsible and as people grow more and more aware of the ecological dilemmas in the world, they are becoming more and more conscious of what they buy and where they buy it. They would more readily choose to shop at an ensign that not only has an excellent environmental track record, but who considers their health and well-being over profit. By choosing not to sell shark, you will be doing a great service to the planet, to your clients and to your ensign.
Yours sincerely,
___________

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