Panama launched on Wednesday an unprecedented initiative that seeks to reduce the consumption of shark meat in the country and encourage restaurants to make the traditional ceviche with another type of fish.
The "Shark Free Ceviche" initiative, promoted by the Mar Viva Foundation, consists of a "responsible trademark" that can be requested by any Panamanian entrepreneur, who will undergo periodic reviews to preserve the distinction, explained the NGO environmentalist.
"Sharks are species with a slow growth rate, which take an average of nine years to reach sexual maturity and have few offspring in each reproductive event", explained the NGO's Science Manager, Juan Posada, for whom it should be legislate to protect the most vulnerable species.
Neither fishing nor the sale of shark meat are prohibited in Panama, but there are certain species that suffer situations of overfishing.
The Mar Viva Foundation calculates that of the 37 commercial shark species that exist in the country, the hammer and the baby are the most threatening.
The specialist said that there is a great disinformation and that people consume shark because they do not know that it is in danger or because it is not even well labeled in the fishmongers of the country, hence the importance of advertising campaigns.
"The shark has always been used to make ceviche because it is a cheap fish, which every part of its body can be used: the trunk for ceviche and the fin for Chinese restaurants", explained Ceviche Tío Sam company manager, Maximiliano Montano.
Among the alternatives to shark that can be used to make ceviche, there are other white meat fish and affordable prices such as dorado, croaker, sole or panga.
"With this initiative we are trying to take care of our seas and our fishing resources", told reporters Rino Tamburelli, president of the Association of Restaurants and Related of Panama (ARAP).
Panama is the Central American country with the highest per capita fish consumption, about 23 kilograms a year, according to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).