Dr. Chapman takes a DNA sample from a nearly 15-ft blunt nose six-gill shark in the Bahamas. Photo by Sean Williams, Cape Eleuthera Institute. Blog by Dr. Demian Chapman, shark geneticist and Blue Ocean Fellow: When I first started studying sharks in the mid 1990s, they were already in serious trouble and there was no reprieve in sight. The Chinese economy was booming and with this boom had grown a new middle class with an insatiable demand for luxury products. One such product was shark fin soup, a $100-a-bowl appetizer served at special events like weddings, banquets and business dinners.
For nearly all of human history, people have been hunter-gatherers. Agriculture has been a very recent development. On land, domestication dominates our food system—cows, chickens, pigs, and vegetables that we have greatly changed from their wild progenitors. Yet when it comes to food from the sea, hunter-gatherers have continued to dominate, right through to the industrialized present. But that’s about to change. For a wild-fish lover like me—and likely you, too—this passing of an ancient era may be a little disappointing.
When you buy seafood, do you actually get what you order? This is the question scientists from the conservation group, Oceana, have been asking. Over the past couple of years they have been investigating seafood fraud – or the mislabeling of seafood species – in major cities around the US. They have found that a high percentage (up to 55 percent) of seafood in Boston, Miami, and Los Angeles, is often sold as something it is not.