Deep-sea sharks targeted in craze for omega-3

9 October 2012

Source: IOL scitech

Author: Fiona Macrae

London - Fish oil supplements have been hailed as the latest weapon in the battle to ward off disease.  However, the soaring demand for omega-3 capsules is putting deep-sea sharks in peril, warn conservationists.

They are a lucrative catch as their huge livers are packed with the valuable oils but many species are vulnerable to exploitation as they take decades to mature.  The leafscale gulper needs 35 years to start breeding while the kitefin has a similar lifecycle.

The charity Oceana Europe claims fisherman are taking full advantage of a law allowing shark oil extracted from species caught outside the EU to be sold here.

The liver oil, including omega-3, is “the new gold,” said the campaigners. Deep-sea sharks are being targeted as they make up for a lack of a swim bladder by accumulating oil in their livers to regulate their buoyancy.

The liver of the goblin shark, living at depths of up to 4,000ft and known for its bizarrely shaped head, makes up a quarter of its body weight.

Fears for these fish species come amid concern that some of the benefits of omega-3 have been oversold. The fats are credited with staving off ills from heart attacks to dementia and depression.

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