Date
24 January 2017
Shark fin prices have fallen more than 50 percent in the past four or five years. Hong Kong's shark fin imports are down 50 percent from 2011. Photo: HKEJ
Shark fin prices have fallen more than 50 percent in the past four or five years. Hong Kong's shark fin imports are down 50 percent from 2011. Photo: HKEJ

Hong Kong shark fin imports down sharply in five years

Hong Kong has seen a steep fall in shark fin imports in the past five years but it still accounts for one-third of the world market.

Last year, it imported 5,717 metric tons, down 40 percent from 2011, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports, citing census figures and data from World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Hong Kong.

About 17,200 metric tons are traded worldwide annually. 

The fall was attributed to heightened environmental awareness and falling demand in a slowing world economy.  

Hong Kong bought 10,480 metric tons of shark fin a year between 2000 and 2011, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

WWF Hong Kong said the number of shipping companies that ban shark fin has grown to 16.

Also, an information campaign is catching on about the ecological damage of hunting down sharks for their fins.

Cheung Chi-wah, senior head of the group’s climate and footprint program, is urging more shipping companies to reject shark fin.

Cathay Pacific Airways has banned shark fin since 2012, said Tracy Tsang, WWF Hong Kong senior program officer.

Hong Kong wholesalers and restaurant owners blamed the sharp decline in shark fin imports to lower consumption thanks to a fall in tourists from mainland China due to a widening corruption crackdown.

Chiu Ching-cheung, chairman of the Shark Fin Trade Merchants Association, said shark fin prices have fallen more than 50 percent in the past four or five years.

But he said only a limited number of consumers have stopped eating shark fin for environmental reasons.

He blamed the sluggish local economy for lackluster business in his restaurants where shark fin dishes are cheaper by up to 80 percent.

Undersecretary for the Environment Christine Loh told a recent WWF Hong Kong event that legislation on the shark fin trade is very complicated and difficult.

She said the most effective way to curb shark fin consumption is stepped-up public education which the government plans to do.

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TL/AC/RA

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