Battle for threatened sharks is being won

Local | Riley Chan 9 Mar 2018

Hong Kong is winning the fight against the trade in shark fins - seen in the volume of imports into the SAR dropping by over 50 percent in the last 10 years.

But the World Wildlife Fund for Nature warns against complacency as it could take another 10 years for Hong Kong to become a fin-free zone.

The Census and Statistics Department reported fin imports fell from 10,210 tonnes in 2007 to 4,979 last year. Re-exports dropped 75 percent during the same period.

Hong Kong is the largest trader of shark fins, accounting for about 40 percent of the business annually. But a 50 percent drop in imports "will be felt by shark traders around the globe," said Andy Cornish, who heads the WWF's Shark and Ray Initiative.

The group pointed to the drop below 5,000 tonnes last year as a 13 percent fall on 2016. And imports by sea decreased from 5,197 tonnes to 4,275.

They are seen to be results of efforts such as the WWF lobbying airlines and shippers to ban the transportation of shark fins.

The listing of nine shark species in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora since 2014 has cut the volume of fins traded internationally.

But WWF Hong Kong's Tracy Tsang Chui-chi said loopholes exist in the SAR's mechanism to act against illegal imports of fins. Nineteen cases were uncovered in the past five years but no one was prosecuted.

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