More than half of the live seafood varieties served in Hong Kong restaurants are in imminent danger of extinction, according to a survey conducted by the conservation group WWF.
Although the survey, conducted from April to June, showed an increase in the supply of sustainable seafood, the proportion of unsustainable seafood varieties remained worryingly high, said Cheung Chi-wah, head of the WWF-Hong Kong’s climate and footprint program.
He urged consumers to avoid seafood varieties which are unsustainable, or those that can become extinct because of overfishing.
According to the survey, which covered 57 local restaurants, 52 percent of the seafood varieties fall under the “Red-Avoid” category. That’s down 16 percentage points from last year’s survey.
Seafood under the “Green-Recommended” category, meaning sustainable, account for 38 percent, while 10 percent are in the “Yellow-Deeply consider before eating”.
Cheung said about 90 percent of wild seafood, or those that are not bred in farms, can become extinct in several decades because of overfishing.
Ng Man-ling, chief operation officer of Worldwide Seafood Ltd., a leading seafood wholesaler, said many Chinese restaurants prefer live seafood, even if they are unsustainable, as long as they are fresh.
For example, Chinese restaurants prefer Leopard coral grouper from Southeast Asia, although it is considered unsustainable, to the same fish variety from Australia, which is categorized as sustainable, because the latter is “not red enough”.
The WWF survey also found that 60 percent of the respondents do not know where to find sustainable seafood products.
The group urges consumers to demand sustainable seafood varieties when they dine out and the government to strengthen regulation on imported seafood.
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