Reducing shark consumption good for sharks, good for human health

Written by on September 12, 2016 in Other News

New research from the University of Miami (UM) demonstrates that restricting consumption of shark products not only protects shark populations but would also have a positive impact on human health.

Hammerhead shark. Photo credit: Wendell Reed via photopin cc.

Hammerhead shark. Photo credit: Wendell Reed via photopin cc.

Researchers found high concentrations of toxins linked to neurodegenerative diseases (like Alzheimer’s and ALS) in the fins and muscles of 10 shark species.

“Since sharks are predators, living higher up in the food web, their tissues tend to accumulate and concentrate toxins, which may not only pose a threat to shark health, but also put human consumers of shark parts at a health risk,” lead author and UM research assistant professor Neil Hammerschlag said in a news release.

While shark products aren’t that popular in the U.S., consumption of fins, cartilage, and meat are high in Asia. Sharks are considered a delicacy in many Asian communities and are used in traditional Chinese medicine in others.

“Our results suggest that humans who consume shark parts may be at a risk for developing neurological diseases.” said senior author and Professor of Neurology, Deborah Mash .

“People should be aware and consider restricting consumption of shark parts. Limiting the consumption of shark parts will have positive health benefits for consumers and positive conservation outcomes for sharks, many of which are threatened with extinction due in part to the growing high demand for shark fin soup and, to a lesser extent, for shark meat and cartilage products,” said Hammerschlag.

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Copyright © 2016 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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