The tragic event held at Plymouth, Devon, saw two men hoisting a Blue shark, an endangered species, above their heads before placing it onto the stage to be used as a part of a cooking demonstration.
Trigger Warning: Some of the images in the story might be disturbing for readers.
A seafood festival held recently at a British port city is now facing the wrath of animal rights activists, who condemned the event for parading a dead shark around the city before it was chopped into pieces, cooked, and served to visitors. The tragic event held at Plymouth, Devon, saw two men hoisting a Blue shark, a near-threatened species, above their heads before placing it onto the stage to be used as a part of a cooking demonstration. The horrific images of this dead creature were posted on the city's tourism board, Visit Plymouth, before they were taken down later.
According to CNN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list of "Near Threatened" species of creatures includes Blue sharks as well. And despite being a 'Priority Species' under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework, it didn't stop the attendees from celebrating their actions. A spokesperson for Plymouth City Council explained how the creature was "inadvertently caught as a by-catch" before being presented as the "'Catch of the Day' session on the main stage." Even Molly Cato, a renowned member of the European Parliament posted a tweet condemning this "shameful behavior."
Appalling behaviour.— Kel. (@Kel70824886) September 17, 2019
She wrote: 'Bycatch' cannot excuse this shameful behaviour in my patch. Parading an endangered shark through Plymouth before chopping it up as part of cookery event is not acceptable. During an interview with the outlet, the Shark Trust, a Plymouth-based charity working towards eliminating killings of sharks criticized the whole incident saying, "Plymouth is in the news today for all the wrong reasons." Furthermore, they added, "The sale of a blue shark at last weekend's seafood festival has sparked outrage on social media with many people rightfully upset at the way that the shark was "paraded" in front of the festival."
Disgusting!— sharonfielder (@sharonfielder8) September 17, 2019
"It opens up debate about fisheries and their impact on sharks. The sight of a dead shark is upsetting, yet the harsh reality is that it is one of very, very many that continue to be caught without limits every day," continued the statement. Likewise, experts from the Ocean Conservation Trust, a global ocean conservation foundation situated at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, too joined in on the criticism. Helen Gowans, a representative of the charity said, "As an ocean conservation charity, we do not condone the eating of blue shark and were disappointed to see that a blue shark was shown off as well as being featured on the chef’s stage."
I'm seeing things like this and a realisation is dawning that our species itself is in its last throes. We've lost all connection with the planet that grants us all life.— RingoFire19 (@KarlMullee) September 17, 2019
Forget tech, asteroids, super volcano & war! Our consumption, self-indulgence and greed, is going to end us!
"We feel that showing the public how to cook this species and then offering them the chance to eat it at such a widely attended event could be damaging, encouraging intrigue and thus demand for blue shark on people's plates moving forward," she added. According to the Independent, the Plymouth Waterfront Partnership that organizes this seafood festival revealed their disappointment. Sarah Gibson, the chief executive of this organization expressed how "surprised and very disappointed that this year’s event saw the inclusion of a shark which we understand was caught as by-catch at the ‘catch of the day’ session and was featured on the chef’s stage by a contributing organisation."
Omg how disgraceful how bloody disgraceful shame on you people 💔— jacqui hughes (@jacquihughes17) September 17, 2019
"We would not have allowed this to proceed if we had known in advance and we have already put measures in place to ensure this will not be allowed to happen again at any of our future events," she added, assuring the public, "We will continue our work with our partners, including the Ocean Conservation Trust, Environment Plymouth, and Seafish to educate about the importance of sustainability and the preservation of the natural blue and green environments including the wildlife around our coast." Speaking to CNN, the Plymouth City Council confirmed how they are "committed to protecting our marine environment and sustainable fishing, especially around endangered species such as sharks."
"We do not condone what happened and we want to make sure that this does not happen again," said the spokesperson representing the City Council. Furthermore, they regretted the presence of the image of the deceased shark in Visit Plymouth's Instagram account, noting how it done by a third party which had temporary access. "This was the first time such a 'takeover' with an event partner had been organized and it was aimed at making the social media content more interactive and spontaneous," said the spokesperson noting that their social media policies will be reviewed for any future events such as these. Despite this the council maintained how this seafood festival was actually Plymouth's "flagship annual events" showcasing the "quality of fresh fish available in the city."