|Shark fin imports fall by a third amid conservation campaigns
The World Wide Fund for Nature ( WWF) Hong Kong on Tuesday announced that the volume of shark fin products imported into Hong Kong in 2013 dropped significantly from 8,285.1 tons to 5,412.2 tons in 2012, or 34.7 percent.
According to the latest figures from Hong Kong's Census and Statistics Department, there was also a decrease in re-export volumes, from 2,428 tons to 2,003.7 tons, or 17.5 percent. The re- export volumes to China declined from 1,170 tons to 114 tons, nearly 90 percent, with Vietnam becoming the top re-export destination in 2013, Xinhua reports.
Tracy Tsang, WWF Hong Kong's Senior Program Officer for Shark, said since 2007, WWF Hong Kong has been actively engaging with different sectors across the city to "Say No to Shark Fin. As of early April, 2014, 168 corporations have taken the "No Shark Fin Corporate Pledge", meaning shark conservation messages reach nearly 90,000 corporate staff. Further, 116 caterers have joined WWF Hong Kong's Alternative Shark Free Menu program.
The Hong Kong government also pledged in 2013 to adopt sustainability-conscious food consumption during official entertainment functions, which includes no consumption of shark fin, added Tsang.
Tsang said, the existing Hong Kong Harmonized System (HKHS) codes, used to track shark fin products, do not as of now identify specific shark species, making it difficult to monitor trade trends in shark fin products. Additionally, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora' s (CITES) decision to include more shark species in its Appendix II has been ratified, and the Hong Kong government should now be preparing to follow the updated CITES requirements.
She suggested that "For CITES implementation, the Hong Kong government should improve the existing HKHS codes to allow for the identification of shark species that need to be tracked. Scientific identification, through DNA testing of randomly-sampled shark fins, could also be deployed for verification purposes.
Hong Kong accounts for about 50 percent of global shark fin trade annually. Shark fin is being used in weddings, corporate banquets and other celebration events, where serving shark fin is regarded as respect to the guests.