Keep shark fin out of cargo holds (只限英文版) | WWF Hong Kong

Keep shark fin out of cargo holds (只限英文版)

29 January 2018

A recent finding revealed that shark fin sold in the city’s dried seafood stores comprises at least 76 species (of sharks, batoids and chimaeras) of which one-third face extinction. This highlights the absolutely urgent need for more logistics companies to adopt No Shark Fin Carriage Policies, to ensure they are not transporting this unsustainable and often illegal cargo.

As of today, at least 17 shipping companies, accounting for 80% of global market share have imposed a ban on shark fin shipments. WWF-Hong Kong applauds the contribution of these companies, and is keen to support the industry to ensure that their good work is not undermined by traders who are trying to get around their carriage embargo and sneak their products onto ships.

Hong Kong accounts for about 50% of the global shark fin trade annually. According to the Census and Statistics Department, 90% of shark fin (by volume) imported to Hong Kong in 2016 arrived via our container port. Despite a growing momentum for shipping lines to ban shark fin carriage over the past two years, shark fin import volume in 2016 showed almost no differences to the import volume in 2015. In mid 2016, WWF-Hong Kong met with management teams and front line staff of various shipping companies to identify the key challenges they face in implementing the no shark fin carriage policy.
The most difficult task shipping companies face is properly identifying suspected shark fin shipments. In March 2017, several airlines and shipping lines were embarrassed by unintentional shark fin shipments. This is possible because most cargo on containers is loaded, counted and sealed by the people shipping the material. The system is based on trust. In some cases, the shipper uses vague terms such as “dried seafood” on orders. Shipping lines have also encountered instances where clients used another language such as Spanish for shark fin (aleta de tiburon) to mislead frontline staff.
To prevent this from happening, shipping companies must insist that their clients provide a World Customs Organization (WCO) Harmonized System (HS) code when making shipment orders. The WCO HS code is a six-digit number that can be used to identify suspicious cargo.
Shipping companies can also focus staff training to prevent shark fin carriage at specific high-risk countries / regions, such as Spain and Vietnam. The former was the largest shark fin importer to Hong Kong in 2016, and the latter was the largest shark fin receiver from Hong Kong.
Although there are many challenges for shipping companies in implementing the No Shark Fin Carriage Policy, WWF-Hong Kong is encouraged that most are open to explore solutions to these issues. After a year of discussions with shipping companies, WWF-Hong Kong produced the No Shark Fin Carriage Policy Implementation Guidelines. The guidelines summarizes the challenges identifying high-risk shark fin shipments and provides recommendations that shipping and logistics companies can incorporate into their daily operations to more effectively choke the shark fin supply chain.
WWF-Hong Kong invites more shipping companies to establish the No Shark Fin Carriage Policy. Only by working together, can we secure a healthier ocean.
Tracy Tsang
Senior Programme Officer (Oceans Sustainability), WWF-Hong Kong
The article is published on South China Morning Post on 15 January 2018.