Historical Shark Meat Consumption and Trade Trends in a Global Richness Hotspot

  • Márcio Luiz Vargas Barbosa-Filho Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, Brazil http://orcid.org/0000-0002-1162-3575
  • Rachel Ann Hauser-Davis Laboratório de Avaliação e Promoção da Saúde Ambiental, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz/Fiocruz, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9451-471X
  • Salvatore Siciliano Laboratório de Enterobactérias, Intituto Oswaldo Cruz/Fiocruz, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Thelma Lúcia Pereira Dias Universidade Estadual da Paraíba, Departamento de Biologia, Campina Grande, Brazil
  • Rômulo Romeu da Nóbrega Alves Universidade Estadual da Paraíba, Departamento de Biologia, Campina Grande, Brazil
  • Eraldo Medeiros Costa-Neto Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana, Departamento de Ciências Biológicas, Feira de Santana, Brazil
Keywords: Local Ecological Knowledge, Food security, Elasmobranchs, Small-scale fisheries, Brazil


Shark catches have increased worldwide, threatening the survival of several species. This study describes historical trends concerning shark consumption and commercialization by artisanal fishers in northeastern Brazil. Semi-structured questionnaires were applied and respondents pointed out that sharks used to be locally regarded as low-quality fish in the past and rejected by fish consumers, with low fisher consumption frequency. However, this has changed in recent decades, as a total of 95.4% (n=62) of the questionnaire respondents reported currently consuming shark meat, while 61.5% (n=40) highlighted its high quality. In addition, most interviewees (90.8%; n=59) reported decreasing numbers of sharks caught over time, following worldwide trends, leading to decreased fisher access to shark meat. Because of this, most respondents (70.7%, n=46) now consider it more advantageous to sell the sharks they catch than to consume them. In addition, the local commercialization of these fish is currently based on immature coastal species (<1 m). Thus, economic and biological studies on local shark populations are suggested in order to preserve local fisher culture and ensure food security for artisanal fisher communities and a long-term sustainable fishery and conservation of exploited species.

Author Biographies

Márcio Luiz Vargas Barbosa-Filho, Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, Brazil

Márcio Luiz Vargas Barbosa-Filho studies small-scale fisheries, with a focus on the local ecological knowledge of fishermen regarding aquatic animals. He is affiliated with the Postgraduate Program in Ethnobiology and Nature Conservation (Programa de Pós-graduação em Etnobiologia e Conservação da Natureza) at Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz, Departamento de Ciências Biológicas, as well as with the Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco.

Rachel Ann Hauser-Davis, Laboratório de Avaliação e Promoção da Saúde Ambiental, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz/Fiocruz, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rachel Ann Hauser-Davis studies Ecotoxicology and Environmental Chemistry, namely contamination by metals, PCBs, PAH, PBDEs, oxidative stress biomarkers and metal detoxification metabolism through metalloproteins.

Salvatore Siciliano, Laboratório de Enterobactérias, Intituto Oswaldo Cruz/Fiocruz, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Salvatore Siciliano studies marine megafauna as ecological sentinels of ocean health.

Thelma Lúcia Pereira Dias, Universidade Estadual da Paraíba, Departamento de Biologia, Campina Grande, Brazil

Thelma L. P. Dias has extensive experience working in the field of marine biology.

Rômulo Romeu da Nóbrega Alves, Universidade Estadual da Paraíba, Departamento de Biologia, Campina Grande, Brazil

Rômulo R. N. Alves is a researcher who has extensive experience working in the field of ecology, with an emphasis on Ethnoecology and Ethnozoology.

Eraldo Medeiros Costa-Neto, Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana, Departamento de Ciências Biológicas, Feira de Santana, Brazil

Eraldo M. Costa-Neto studies biocultural heritage and ethnozoology, with an emphasis on the human uses of wildlife.


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How to Cite
Barbosa-Filho, M. L. V., Hauser-Davis, R. A., Siciliano, S., Dias, T. L. P., Alves, R. R. da N., & Costa-Neto, E. M. (2019). Historical Shark Meat Consumption and Trade Trends in a Global Richness Hotspot. Ethnobiology Letters, 10(1), 97-103. https://doi.org/10.14237/ebl.10.1.2019.1560
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