WWF Welcomes the Government Updated Seafood Policy
The three newly-added species are all heavily overfished. Both the Humphead wrasse and the Hong Kong grouper are listed as Endangered species by the IUCN, while several sturgeon species are Critically Endangered and poised on the edge of extinction. All these species are listed in the “Red – Avoid” category of WWF-Hong Kong’s Seafood Guide since 2007, meaning that they are unsustainable products and should not be consumed at any point.
Dr Allen To, Assistant Manager of WWF-Hong Kong’s Footprint Programme says, “This is an encouraging move by the government which builds on the current momentum and awareness of seafood sustainability. This move is particularly important as many public organizations and businesses follow the government’s guidelines”.
“This move by the government is a most welcome advance in policy and action towards making Hong Kong more responsible in its consumption patterns”, adds Yvonne Sadovy, Professor at the University of Hong Kong and Co-chair of the IUCN Grouper and Wrasse Specialist Group.
Looking ahead, to build on this positive development, WWF believes that the government should now look into the trade in live groupers and Humphead wrasse in more detail. An earlier study found that the monitoring, recording and enforcement of the trade in these species was being implemented neither comprehensively nor effectively. Improving the trade is the first step in moving towards a more responsible trade in live reef food fish in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, where the majority of live groupers and Humphead wrasse are sourced.
In addition, as Hong Kong people are the second largest per capita consumers of seafood in Asia and the eighth largest globally, we must acknowledge that our consumption of seafood creates significant worldwide impacts – both positive and negative. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance for the government to not only reduce its own impact on seafood consumption, as it is doing; but to also educate the public on the issue of sustainability and encourage more sustainable trade and consumption across our city.
Moving forward, WWF strongly encourages the government to initiate public education programmes and campaigns to raise public awareness about the vital importance of sustainable living, and provide incentives to encourage companies and the public to support the consumption of sustainable products like sustainable seafood.
This call echoes the recommendations made by WWF-Hong Kong during a consultation led by the Council for Sustainable Development (SDC), which will make recommendations to the government in early 2017 on ways to encourage the sustainable use of biological resources in Hong Kong.