Hong Kong plays an important role on shark conservation as more than half of the globe’s shark fin trade constitute here. In 2016, Hong Kong imported 5700 tonnes of shark fin.
A recent study shows at least 76 species were found in local market and nearly 33% among them are species threatened by extinction. Their future is in our hands.
76 different shark species, 5 times more shark species found in the largest shark aquarium in Asia. From the dried seafood retailers to Chinese restaurant chains, we can easily consume threatened species without noticing it due to missing labels of fins from different shark species.
Chun Fin, Hai Fu Fin, Wuyang Fin are the names we normally find in Dried Seafood Street. Consumer can hardly tell their vulnerability by the fin names. In most of the Chinese restaurant chains, no fin names will be provided; rather, they are often named as ‘Fin’ on the menu. Most of the time, customers just ordered ‘Shark fin braised with superior soup / chicken soup’ from the menu. At least 16 threatened species found in the latest study are regulation-free in Hong Kong. Everyone can import, export or sell in the domestic market.
The other 8 threatened species are regulation by Cap. 586 under Hong Kong legislation. However, the ordinance only means a permit from the exporting country is needed for importing to Hong Kong, and a permit from Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department is needed for exporting. After acquiring the permit, you can then sell and buy freely in the Hong Kong market.
If we fail to impose stringent regulations in Hong Kong, sharks will eventually be extinct. HK Shark Foundation believes HKSAR government has to introduce measures to manage the trade and the market while threatened species shall be prioritized. We urge the government to consider implementing a series of change in policies, ranging from strengthened regulations and enforcement, introduction of more requirements on import and re-export documentation, higher penalties on illegal smuggling of wildlife and shark fin products, or a ban on the buying, selling, or possession of shark-related products.
Written by HK Shark Foundation
Photo credit to Alex Hofford