The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) is encouraging seafood lovers to take the pledge to #GiveFlakeABreak and choose sustainable alternatives to flake when they visit their local chippy this summer.
In Australia there’s no legal obligation to call shark meat, commonly known as ‘flake’, with the name of the species or where it’s from. Quirks in Australia’s national environmental laws also permit the harvest of endangered sharks.
The AMCS say there are problems with the way some shark species are fished in Australia which result in the deaths of threatened species of turtles, dolphins, dugongs, seals and other protected shark species.
AMCS shark scientist Dr Leonardo Guida says there are plenty of delicious sustainable alternatives for seafood lovers.
He recommends people use the AMCS’s sustainable seafood guide GoodFish to make their choices.
‘Fish and chips on a Friday night is an Aussie family staple, and I’ve loved it since I was a kid,’ said Dr Guida.
‘But many seafood lovers may be horrified to learn that they could be eating an endangered shark if they chose flake.
‘By pledging to give flake a break, we’re signalling that endangered sharks need better protection,’ he said.
‘We need to give sharks the breathing room they need to recover, while we continue to improve fisheries practices and tighten our laws.
‘Flake should only refer to shark meat from gummy and rig sharks which aren’t endangered, yet endangered school shark, endangered scalloped hammerheads, and critically endangered whitefin swellshark can still end up on your plate as flake,’ said Dr Guida.
Alarming survey results
AMCS recently surveyed the menus of 70 fish and chip shops across Australia that sell shark meat, and found that less than a third (29%) of shark meat on sale referred to a specific species.
The remaining are labelled generically as ‘flake’ and in one case, ‘boneless baby shark’, meaning it’s impossible to tell what you’re eating.
The survey also found that at least 40% of the fish and chip shops surveyed sell a sustainable alternative.
‘On average, $2 is the difference between eating an endangered shark and a sustainable alternative,’ said Dr Guida.
‘But you wouldn’t necessarily have to leave the shop to pick something more sustainable.
‘Have a chat with your retailer, ask questions about your fish, and in choosing sustainable options, we’re better supporting local industry and healthy oceans all at once,’ he said.