A restaurant in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada has Mako Shark on their menu. This came as a bit of a shock to me not only because we are so far away from any ocean, but because this is where I live and all the problems facing sharks seemed far away. I felt a responsibility to do something about this because it is in my backyard.
I went to chat with the owners. Here is how the conversation went. I did not have a recorder with me, so this is not an exact transcription, but I believe it is an accurate description of what took place.
Walked in and asked for owner.
Her: “I am” as she pointed at herself.
Me: “May I talk with you for a second? I wanted to ask you about your seafood, where does it come from?”
“We order from Pacific Fresh Fish and they get their stuff from all over. we make sure all our seafood is fresh and never frozen”
“That includes the mako shark?”
“Actually that is one that is shipped frozen.”
Still from pacific fresh fish?
Yes, we try to have about 4 fresh seafood dishes.
Is it very popular?
It is when we have it on the menu. Usually for summer we have something a little more unique
May I ask if you are aware that mako shark is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN red list of endangered species?
You mean that it’s like endangered?
(nodding) Yes, that’s why we haven’t had it on our menu for about 9 months. We don’t sell very much of it. That’s also why we took Chilean sea bass off the menu, cause they are getting over-fished.
Thank you very much for doing that, that is great. Are you also aware that mako shark has high levels of mercury and could be potentially dangerous to women who are pregnant, may become pregnant and small children?
Yes, I think most fish has mercury. I am six months pregnant and I will not eat shark or really any fish.
Congratulations! The mercury generally gets worse as you move up the food chain with sharks, swordfish, marlin etc. being the worst.
Yeah. Who are you with?
I am with no one, just someone who loves the ocean. I hope to dive with the mako shark in a few months, I am very excited.
So, I have to ask: knowing that the shark is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN red list of endangered species and that it could potentially poison your customers, why do you serve mako shark at all?
Well, like I said we rarely have it on our menu.
I just looked at your menu and it is on there.
Yes, but it wasn’t for a long time and we rarely serve it because it comes frozen and we like to serve fresh fish. It is also expensive to serve. We took over this restaurant about a year ago and have made some changes.
So could we consider taking off the menu all together?
It’s possible. I am not the whole decision maker.
Is there a time when I could come back and talk with both of you?
Probably after this month is over, to be honest.
Ok, I have some information for you here (presented her with printed pages of the IUCN red list of endangered species and information on mercury levels of mako sharks). Please read them over and pass them along to your husband. I’ll be back in a few weeks to check how things are going.
(we shake hands)
Thanks for listening
I will not reveal the name of the restaurant until they decide to take off the menu or it has remained on their menu for 1 month after I informed them of the sharks IUCN red listing and potentially dangerous mercury levels.