Fish and chip shops have been told to check their stock for shark meat after the gruesome discovery of scores of carcasses on the Isle of Wight.
A resident of the island was left horrified after stumbling across a mound of severed heads and fins of smooth-hound sharks, which are completely harmless to humans.
After a picture of his shocking find appeared on Facebook, government officials have urged chip shops to ensure they know what they are selling.
Shark meat is often used in pet food and fish meal but can also be passed off as huss or rock salmon, which are sold in takeaways around Britain.
It is thought an unlicensed trawler may have landed the sharks, before their valueless heads and fins were cut off, leaving only the meat.
Kevin Parker, who found the remains of what he estimates at more than 50 of the animals, said local residents had been shocked by what had been found.
The Food Standards Agency, which monitors the quality of food in restaurants and shops, has since issued guidance to anyone selling fish.
A spokesman said: ‘Fish must be what it claims to be on the label or the menu and food businesses must make sure they buy their fish from reputable sources.’
Conservationists are also concerned because the smooth-hound species has been classified as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Richard Peirce, chairman of the Shark Trust, warned that fishing for sharks is becoming increasingly common in British waters.
After viewing a photo of the latest find, he said: ‘I’m always disappointed at the waste of vulnerable or endangered species.’
He called for limits on how many sharks fisherman can land in a bid to stop the rising numbers being caught.