Squalene is a natural antioxidant and moisturiser that can be produced from vegetables but is more commonly extracted from deep sea sharks who have high quantities of the substance in their livers so as to withstand the atmospheric pressure of living deep under the sea. Squalene has become a very common ingredient in cosmetics ranging from lip balm to moisturiser to sun screen.
This has led to increased shark hunting, causing thousands to be killed each year, including many deep water species that are already under threat. The fact that there are plant-derived sources of squalene makes this slaughter needless. The problem is exacerbated by the lack of clear labelling indicating to consumers whether they are buying products with shark‐ or plant-derived squalene.
The situation can be seen as even more urgent when one realises that these species of sharks take a long time to reproduce and it may therefore take decades before previous numbers are restored.
Is this a situation that the Commission is monitoring in relation to endangered species numbers? Are there any plans to modify the rules regarding the labelling of cosmetics so consumers know if the squalene they contain is sourced from animals or plants?