Since sharks lack a swim bladder, they use oil in their livers to regulate their buoyancy. Deep-sea sharks, those living below 300 meters, have huge livers with more oil to adjust to these depths. As a result, they are caught by deep-sea trawls, gillnetts and longlines for an oily substance found in their livers called squalene. Squalene, or its derivative squalane, is found in many cosmetic products.
Little is known about the biology, distribution or population sizes of deep-sea sharks. The limited known information suggests these deepwater sharks are extremely vulnerable to any fishing pressure and risk of serious decline without better management.
Oceana’s Europe office successfully convinced Unilever to remove shark squalene from its cosmetic brands, including Pond’s and Dove, and will replace it with a plant-based substitute. In North America, Oceana convinced the Vermont Country Store to stop the sale of an “Oceana” named shark squalane. In addition, Oceana is working to acquire stronger management measures for deep-sea sharks.