22. June 2019 Christine Gstöttner

Shark on the menu? How shark products can be identified.

Many people are aware of the trade in shark fins. The consumption of shark fin soup is perceived as unnecessary. A closer look reveals that the market for shark meat should not be underestimated either. Especially in areas where overfishing has decimated other fish populations, sharks are increasingly hunted for their meat. That is why, for example in the Azores, sharks are used twice: On the one hand, the fins are used to meet the Asian demand for shark fin soup. The meat, on the other hand, is exported to other countries where it is consumed as a form of fish.

Blue shark steak in portugese  Supermarket
(c) F. Kremer-Obrock

Only a fraction of the market is known. Nevertheless, according to the FAO, the total value of the world trade in shark products approached US$ 1 billion per year as early as 2015, knowledge of this growing globalised market is still very limited. What complicates the problem is that the available data on imports and exports only cover part of what is actually caught and traded.

Shark meat is now eaten in many countries around the world. In Europe, sharks are mainly eaten in Italy and France, but also in Germany, Great Britain and Spain. While global trade in shark fins seems to have declined slightly since the beginning of the millennium, global trade data show that trade in shark meat has grown steadily over the last decade. The latest official FAO figure for 2011 is an incredible 121,641 tonnes of imported shark meat, an increase of 42% since 2000.

Spiny dogfish on Hamburg fish market
(c) F. Kremer-Obrock

But many people do not even know that they are eating sharks. It is often sold under misleading labels and trade names, such as flake, sea ham, carbonated fish or sea eel. Rock salmon, which is actually spiny spiny dogfish, used to be widely used in fish & chips. The fishing industry is aware that most consumers do not accept a product that contains shark in its name, and therefore acts very imaginatively: shark meat is labelled with completely new fantasy names. Therefore you will find here an overview of common trade names for shark meat in the most important European countries:

English Names:

– Cape Steak
– Dogfish
– Flake
– Grayfish
– Gummy
– Huss
– Lemon Fish
– Ocean Fish / Ocean Filet
– Rigg
– Rock Salmon, Smoked Rock Salmon
– Sea Ham
– Smoked Dogfish
– Sokomoro
– Steakfish
– Tofu Shark

Also in Great Britain you find shark meat in “False crab meat” (Surimi) or as part of Fish & Chips.

German Names /Deutsche Namen:

– Dornfisch
– Kalbsfisch
– Karbonadenfisch
– Königsaal / Steinaal
– Ozean Filet / Meeres Filet
– Schillerlocke
– Seeaal / Meeraal
– Seestör / Wildstör
– Sokomoro
– Speckfisch
– Steinlachs
– Tofuhai

Furthermore, shark meat may be contained in imitations of other marine products, e.g. “False scallops” or “False crab meat” (Surimi).


French names / Noms Français:

– Chiens
– Petite
– Roussette, Rande Roussette
– Saumonette
– Taupe
– Veau de Mer

Italian names / Nomi Italiani:
– Cani Spellati
– Gattucci
– Palombo
– Smeriglio
– Spinaroli


Spanish names / Nombre Español:

– Alo Rosado
– Caella
– Cazón
– Gallina del Mar
– Lobito
– Tintorera

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