Shark sightings are nothing new for Penny Miller, a Valley Park resident who has been shark diving for almost 20 years.
But recently, Miller saw sharks somewhere she didn’t expect: her grocery store.
“Seeing it chopped up in a frozen food section, it pretty much breaks your heart,” she said.
Miller snapped a picture of the steaks made from thresher sharks, whose populations are at risk, and launched a campaign asking Dierbergs Markets to stop selling them. The local grocery store chain agreed, saying they haven’t bought Thresher shark since September.
(Comment and rate on their listings page.)
“It does make a big difference, even here in the Midwest,” Miller said.
Dierbergs originally offered shark steaks from Ecuador year-round as a cheaper seafood option. Miller said the store officials she spoke with believed they were buying from a sustainable, eco-friendly source.
“The reason Dierbergs was able to get thresher shark for a reasonable price is ‘finning,’” or cutting off sharks fins so fishermen can catch and sell them, Miller said.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature sets thresher sharks’ status as “vulnerable” and their population as “decreasing.” The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch list markes shark meat as “to be avoided” because of unsustainable fishing practices and mercury accumulation.
Thresher sharks “simply cannot reproduce at the rate they are being taken,” Miller said.
A buyer told Miller she wanted to “do the right thing,” and in December, Dierbergs announced they would no longer stock thresher shark steaks.
“For those of you who may have seen something that bothered you but did not know how to make a difference, I can tell you that one voice can indeed change things,” Miller wrote in a blog post for Shark Savers, a New York-based shark conservation group.
For more information about protecting sharks from finning, find the shark conservation booth at St. Louis Earth Day.