This film features the results of mercury tests conducted on shark meat samples I purchased in 2017 from ‘Publix’ in Florida, USA. I chose to send the samples to be tested for toxins, by a lab that has been offering low-level mercury and methyl mercury analytical services for over three decades, is fully accredited, and tests in conformance with EPA-approved methods, making their results solid. Unfortunately Publix is just one of many establishments to sell shark meat throughout the USA, it is a common occurrence.
The entire investigation is a replication of tests I have conducted on shark samples previously in Australia. Each set of these previous tests yielded illegal levels and showed shocking results of harmful mercury present in consumer grade shark meat.
The presence of mercy in sharks has been previously studied and documented, and is a well known occurrence in shark meat. Their long lives and diet make them containers for high levels of mercury. With so much validation for the continuation of shark fisheries being spread in Florida by NOAA, and the fishermen themselves, it is important to look not just on the effect on sharks, but also the effect on humans. If shark meat is impacting human health, especially that of children and mothers with newborns, then we need to reconsider its availability to the unsuspecting public.
In the USA, the FDA has set limits on what the safe amount of mercury is to be consumed by humans.. The highest allowable average mercury concentration, in fish, per serving, when eating three servings per week, is 0.15 micrograms per gram. Any fish with an average mercury concentration less than or equal to this number is listed as a best choice. The results from my mercury tests measured one sample at 4.63 micrograms per gram, which means eating this one sample would exceeds the FDA ‘best choices’ limit 31 times over after one serving, 93 times over the limit after three servings, and exceed the FDA’s ‘choices to avoid limit.’
The black and white footage mid film, is from Minamata city in Japan. In 1956, the Chisso Corporation's chemical factory allowed the release of mercury-contaminated wastewater into Minimata Bay. Fish and shell fish were poisoned. which, when eaten by the local populace, resulted in the first recorded large-scale outbreak of mercury poisoning. This gave rise to Minamata disease… the first definition of the neurological syndromes caused by severe mercury poisoning.
Publix will give every argument under the sun towards their commitment to sustainable and well-regulated practices, but shark cannot be tested before sale to the public and there is no regulations enforced. My results proved the mercury levels are dangerous to humans, and therefore there is no valid argument for Publix or anyone to be selling potentially harmful shark meat to the public, even with issues with shark sustainability aside. This isn’t just a shark issue, it’s a people issue.
Sharks must be brought back from fishing expeditions with their fins attached in order for the fins to be sold legally. This gave rise to the usage of shark meat as a food source, to allow the export of shark fins. Sold in main steam supermarket chains like Publix, shark meat is often labeled falsely throughout the community and can have great effects on the human body due to its severity of mercury, ultimately meaning that sharks are not a viable food source and should therefore not be targeted by commercial fisheries.
Mercury expert consultation: Ian Brown
B.Sc (App Chem); Dip App Chem; Dip App Sc; Dip Gem
Donations made this film, and the expensive mercury tests possible. Thank you to everyone who donated
Frazier Nivens (Ocean Imaging Studios)
Perrin James (last breath film)