(ANIMAL ACTIVISM) British model Lily Cole plans to protest the use of shark liver oil at the Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts in Wales this Thursday. Squalene—an oil extracted from the livers of endangered sharks—is being used more and more frequently in the cosmetic industry, particularly in the making of a high-end face cream. Cole will be joined by Alannah Weston, the creative director at Selfridges, who is removing all products containing squalene from the store. Sharks are already under threat from the finning industry, so it’s important to quickly curb this “beauty” trend. Read on for more on this disturbing practice. — Global Animal
Daily Mail, Deni Kirkova
Sharks are already in demand for their fins and now it has been revealed that their livers are being used to make luxury face cream.
Model and animal rights campaigner Lily Cole is to speak out against the use of squalene, an oil extracted from the livers of endangered sharks, at the Hay Festival on Thursday.
As one of Britain’s most successful models Cole has caliber when it comes to the world of fashion and beauty. She is known for using her fame to promote environmental causes and this latest appeal hits close to home.
She will expose one of the beauty trade’s murkier secrets – its reliance on killing sharks to obtain a key cosmetics ingredient.
Cole will be joined on stage by Alannah Weston, creative director of Selfridges, the department store, who will announce it is clearing its shelves of all products containing squalene derived from sharks.
Almost all beauty products use a loophole in European labelling regulations to avoid revealing the origin of the substance, reported the Sunday Times.
‘Sharks are now among the most vulnerable species in the ocean,’ said Weston. ‘The unrestricted killing of sharks is just another example of human destruction of the ocean and its creatures.’
The substance is made by sharks in their livers to help control their buoyancy in water.
The livers of deep sea sharks, living 700-13,000ft below the surface, contain large amounts of the oil, which has made them an increasingly popular target for fishing fleets.
Gulper sharks, a group of long and slender dogfish with very large mouths, are regarded as producing the best quality squalene, with their oil fetching up to £18,000 a ton. Some species face extinction in the northeast Atlantic.
A recent investigation by Bloom, a French marine conservation charity, suggested that about 3m deep sea sharks were being caught each year for the cosmetics industry, with global demand for shark oil reaching about 2,500 tons in 2010.
Romain Chabrol, the report’s author, said: ‘It appears that a distinct phenomenon of ‘livering’ exists in which the liver is removed and the carcass thrown back overboard, similar to ‘finning’ where sharks have their fins cut off before the injured animals are thrown back, usually still alive.’
The ugly way in which squalene is obtained is in strong contrast to its uses. Cosmetic manufacturers prize it for its power as a natural moisturiser, valuable in a wide range of skin products. It also makes for easy labelling because there is no obligation for manufacturers to declare its origin and many people have never heard of it.
Some European manufacturers have responded to the concern.
The Sunday Times reported that L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever’s Dove skincare range used shark-derived squalene in their products, but they have since phased out the material. Unilever says squalene was replaced with plant-derived substitutes two or three years ago.
Chabrol said such changes meant the key markets were now in the Far East. ‘Japan is the world’s leading market for squalene, accounting for 40 per cent of global demand.’
Heather Koldewey of ZSL said Britain had already seen the near extinction of the angel shark with several other of its 30 shark, skate and ray species under threat. ‘Protecting the areas where they gather to feed, breed or lay eggs is a potentially good strategy. We want the area around the Manacles to be declared a marine conservation zone largely because of its shark life.’
Philanthropist Cole, 25, joined other figures from the fashion world to call on the government to support a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides linked to declines in bee populations last month.
She has also also acted as Body Shop brand activist, speaks out for ethical fashion and recently went on a trip to Acre in north west Brazil as part of her role as ambassador for Sky Rainforest Rescue – Sky and WWF’s partnership to help save one billion trees in the Amazon rainforest.