In its campaign to end the use of shark squalene, Oceana has received news that the multinational will stop using this product in early 2008, joining other European cosmetic companies that have already done so
Madrid -- Oceana, the international marine conservation organisation, is engaged in a campaign to end of the use of shark liver oil, known as squalene, in cosmetics products. Europe is a major force in the production and trade of squalene, and the campaign has included investigative visits to fishing ports and cosmetics shops, and discussions with cosmetic companies and squalene manufacturers, to gather information about uses, trade and markets for this product and the sharks it comes from.
Oceana has received notice that Unilever, a multinational company famous for many brands of food, personal care and household products, has decided to remove shark squalene from its cosmetic brands, including Pond’s and Dove, and will replace it with a plant-based version. According to Unilever, the new production will begin early this year and new formulations are expected to appear on market shelves beginning April 2008.
Squalene is an organic compound found in certain animal and plant sources, and is used as an emollient in various cosmetic products, such as creams, lotions and glosses. Squalene oil can be harvested from the livers of sharks, where it is found in great quantities. Deep-sea sharks (those living in ocean depths of 300 to 1500 metres) have especially large reserves of squalene, as their livers can comprise up to one-third of the weight of the entire animal. Consequently, deep-sea sharks are often caught specifically for their squalene oil. The excessive catches of these animals have contributed to dramatic population declines of certain species, some of which are on the IUCN Red List of threatened species. Oceana has been campaigning to end the wasteful deep-sea gillnet fishery for sharks in the Northeast Atlantic since 2005.
Shark-based squalene has a readily available substitute on the market that comes from a purely vegetable origin. Squalene can be obtained from olives (a component of olive oil) and it has the same qualities of animal-based squalene and is less expensive than the animal version.