WWF Announces Changes in Shark Fin Trade Figures – Imports Drop Over 30 Per Cent



Posted 08 April 2014
Shark fins laid out on the streets to dry and for trimming/cleaning before selling.
© Jurgen Freund/ WWF-Canon Enlarge
WWF-Hong Kong announces today that the volume of shark fin products imported into Hong Kong in 2013 dropped significantly – from 8,285.1 tonnes to 5,412.2 tonnes, or 34.7 per cent – according to the latest figures from the Census and Statistics Department. There was also a decrease in re-export volumes, from 2,428 tonnes to 2,003.7 tonnes – a 17.5 per cent decrease, and a notable decline in shark fin re-export volumes to China, with Vietnam becoming the top re-export destination in 2013.

However, WWF-Hong Kong has determined that 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.

Tracy Tsang, WWF’s Senior Programme Officer for Shark suggests that, “For CITES implementation, the government should improve the existing HKHS codes, following the coding practice used for bluefin tuna, 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. To better regulate the shark fin trade and improve its transparency, WWF calls on the Hong Kong government to begin collecting and releasing full statistics on the shark fin trade, including the species, volumes and countries of origin.”

A famous wedding planner, Mr Tim Lau, shared at the press conference that, “Shark-free banquets have become more popular over the past two years. At least 20 per cent more wedding couples now choose shark-free banquets. Some of them even do so because their parents came up with the idea.”

Since 2007, WWF has been actively engaging with different sectors across the city to “Say No to Shark Fin”. Our Alternative Shark Free menu programme is another key shark conservation initiative. 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 programme.
Shark fins laid out on the streets to dry and for trimming/cleaning before selling.
© Jurgen Freund/ WWF-Canon Enlarge