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Outrage as rare blue shark is chopped up, cooked and eaten at seafood festival after parading it through streets

Animal rights activists have expressed their disappointment at the stunt, with the Plymouth city council promising to ensure it doesn't happen again.
UPDATED MAR 30, 2020
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Animal rights activists are enraged at an event which unfolded during a popular seafood festival that saw a shark being paraded through the city and then chopped up, cooked, and served to visitors. The incident unfolded at the Plymouth Seafood Festival and saw two men hoist a blue shark, listed as near-threatened by the International Union of Conservation of Nature, in the air and then carry it through Plymouth, Devon, before depositing it on a stage where it was used for a cookery demonstration, according to the Guardian.

While there are no limits to catching the shark in UK waters, there have been calls to protect it, and experts from the Ocean Conservation Trust, a global ocean conservation charity based in Plymouth which is "committed to protecting and sustaining our ocean," have criticized the stunt.

"As an ocean conservation charity, we do not condone the eating of blue shark and were disappointed to see that a blue shark was shown off as well as being featured on the chef’s stage," said Helen Gowan of the trust.

The Guardian reported that the blue shark had been caught as a 'by-catch,' which is when fish and other marine creatures are trapped by commercial fishing nets by mistake.

Addressing the incident, the Plymouth City Council confirmed the blue shark was caught as a 'by-catch' and promised such an incident would not happen in the future. 

"Unfortunately during this year’s Seafood festival a shark was inadvertently caught as a by-catch by a local fisherman on one of their regular commercial fishing activities and was then brought to the 'catch of the day' session on the main stage of the Seafood festival," the council said.

"We and our partners are committed to protecting our marine environment and sustainable fishing, especially around endangered species such as sharks, and we do not condone what happened and we want to make sure this does not happen again in future events."

But the reassurances did little to placate social media users, who slammed the "appalling stunt."

"I hope they all got poisoned from the toxic shark meat," one wrote, while another posted, "Sharks belong in the sea - this is cruel and unsustainable- there will be no fish left, we are destroying the planet's ecosystem [sic]."

A spokesperson for Shark Trust, an organization committed to "safeguarding the future of sharks through positive change," said, "Sharks are an inevitable part of by-catch, and at this time blue shark can be legally retained, sold and consumed."

"Having seen the photographs related to the auction, and how the shark was handled, we can appreciate that this caused distress to some festivalgoers, and was not the most appropriate approach."