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Endangered shark species sold in UK chip shops, study finds
Fishing for spiny dogfish is banned under EU rules in most circumstances.
Researchers call for better seafood labelling  

Scientists have found endangered species of hammerhead, dogfish and other sharks on sale for consumption in the UK.

DNA barcoding was used to look at 78 shark samples from chip shops, 39 from fishmongers, 10 fins from a wholesaler and 30 fins seized by UK Border Force as they travelled from Mozambique to Asia.

The majority of chip shop samples were found to be spiny dogfish, which is endangered in Europe and vulnerable worldwide. Products were being sold under generic names such as huss, rock salmon and rock eel.

Fin samples included scalloped hammerheads, which are endangered globally and subject to international trade restrictions. The fins from the UK wholesaler also included other threatened sharks such as shortfin mako and smalleye hammerheads.

Other species found on sale in fishmongers and chip shops included starry smooth-hounds, nurse hounds and blue sharks.

Fishing for spiny dogfish is banned under EU rules in most circumstances. Whilst researchers said these samples could have been sourced from more sustainable stocks elsewhere, the findings highlight the problems of labelling shark meat with ‘umbrella’ terms that cover multiple species.

First author Catherine Hobbs, from the University of Exeter, said: “It’s almost impossible for consumers to know what they are buying. People might think they’re getting a sustainably sourced product when they’re actually buying a threatened species.

“There are also health issues. Knowing what species you are buying could be important in terms of allergies, toxins, mercury content and the growing concern over microplastics in the marine food chain.”

Researchers are calling for more accurate food labelling so people can make informed choices about what shark species they eat. The research has been published in Scientific Reports.

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Endangered turtles rescued from smugglers

News Story 1
 A group of endangered turtles have found a new home at London Zoo after being rescued from smugglers.

The four big-headed turtles arrived at the zoo at the end of last year, after smugglers tried to illegally import them to Canada, labelled as toys.

One of the turtles, named Lady Triệu after a Vietnamese warrioress, has moved to a new exhibit in the zoo’s reptile house. She is the only one of her kind in a UK zoo.

Big-headed turtles have such large heads that they cannot pull them back into their shells. To compensate, they have armour plating from head to tail and a very sharp beak to fend off predators. They are ranked number 18 on ZSL’s EDGE of Existence reptile list, which puts threatened species at the forefront of conservation action. Image © ZSL  

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RCVS Fellowship board chair elections get underway

Voting for the 2019 RCVS Fellowship Chair election is now underway. This year four candidates are standing for election, including Dr Robert Huey, Professor John Innes, Professor Liz Mossop and Professor Ian Ramsey.

The Chair will attend and preside over Fellowship meetings and take the lead in consolidating the Fellowship’s position as the learned society of the RCVS. Fellows will receive an email containing a link to the online voting form, as well as candidates’ details and manifestos. Voting closes at 5pm on Thursday, 5 September.