Date
26 March 2017
Four more types of shark fin have been added to the list of banned products but due to loopholes in the law, only eight of the species are banned in Hong Kong while smuggling has been rampant. Photo: HKEJ
Four more types of shark fin have been added to the list of banned products but due to loopholes in the law, only eight of the species are banned in Hong Kong while smuggling has been rampant. Photo: HKEJ

Customs seizes record haul of banned shark fin

Customs authorities have seized a record 1,280 kilos of smuggled shark fin in the first two months of the year, more than the total for the whole of last year.

The goods, suspected to have been from an endangered type of hammerhead shark and oceanic white tip shark, were found in four containers from India, Egypt, Kenya and Peru, news website hk01.com reports.

Tracy Tsang, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) senior program officer for sharks, said Hong Kong has great demand for shark fin.

The seized items are listed under restricted species and protected by Hong Kong law, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said.

Tsang said the amount of shark fin seized has increased sharply in the past two years, rising to 1,089 kilos last year from just 78 kilos in 2015.

She said four more types of shark fin have been added to the list of banned species, bringing the total to 12.

However, due to loopholes in the law, only eight of the species are banned in Hong Kong while smuggling has been rampant.

It is projected that smuggling of shark fin will dramatically fall once the loopholes are plugged.

WWF has reached an agreement with 16 shipping companies to stop carrying shark fin. Some shipping companies, however, might have accepted the goods by accident, according to reports.

Last year, oceanic protection group Sea Shepherd Global found that many shark fin traders would use labels such as “dried seafood” and “marine products” to trick shipping companies into bringing their goods into Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, air cargo movers such as Cathay Pacific and Virgin Atlantic, as well as shipping giant Maersk, have vowed to stop transporting shark fin but have also let slip some cargo due to the misleading labels, Apple Daily reports.

Maersk said they did not know that the containers had shark fin. Cathay Pacific is cooperating with customs authorities while Virgin Atlantic has banned a company involved in shark fin imports.

Gary Stokes, executive director of Sea Shepherd Global, said the Hong Kong government can tackle mislabeled shark fin by switching from post-shipment to pre-shipment documentation.

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