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Caribbean people urged to rethink consumption of shark meat

Caribbean people urged to rethink consumption of shark meat

Shark meat is becoming an increasingly popular fish protein throughout the Caribbean as sightings of the apex predator near some islands such as St Kitts, Montserrat and Antigua are growing.
Since the attack of American student Brook Toussaint near Booby Island, earlier this month, fishermen in St Kitts and Nevis have increased their catch of sharks.

But you may want to take a rain check on that Bake and Shark, Curried shark and dumplings or a warm bowl of fish tea because a new study by the non-profit research institute Beneath the Waves (BTW), documented and revealed alarmingly high levels of 12 heavy metals, including mercury, in the muscle tissues of large reef and tiger sharks sampled throughout The Bahamas.

Loop News spoke with Jamie Fitzgerald, General Operations Manager of BTW, who said the findings of the study was alarming given the pristine condition of the ocean surrounding the Bahamian islands.

“The fact that there is still the presence of heavy metals is a really important connection to the entire global ecosystem,” Fitzgerald said as she noted their study has not looked at the source of toxic metals.

Fitzgerald said that one interesting finding of this study is that the sharks seem to be in good health so it raises the question if they are adapting to the problem or taking metals out of the environment that may be harmful to other species.

She notes that the findings can be applied to the wider Caribbean since sharks migrate.

“They are not just staying in the Bahamas Shark Sanctuary where the waters are protected. This is a good overview of what is going on for sharks in the Bahamas and it can definitely be inferred that sharks in other areas of the Caribbean, even other areas of the world. Some of these other tropical regions, where there are high shark populations, there is the possibility that these sharks have high levels of toxins or maybe even higher if their waters are not as protected as the Bahamas,” Fitzgerald stated.

Fitzgerald is hopeful that people will rethink putting sharks on their table after viewing the study.

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