WWF Applauds Government for Issuing Shark Fin and Bluefin Tuna Internal Ban | WWF Hong Kong

WWF Applauds Government for Issuing Shark Fin and Bluefin Tuna Internal Ban

13 September 2013

WWF-Hong Kong applauds the HKSAR Government for issuing a shark fin and bluefin tuna internal ban for their official dining today. We see it as a bold and encouraging step taken by the Government on the conservation of sharks and bluefin tuna. WWF hopes that more people would support this action by not consuming or serving shark fin and bluefin tuna, and support choosing sustainable seafood. We also hope that the Government can continue to show its support by improving trade transparency and extending relevant international conventions into Hong Kong.

Shark fin ban
The number of shark species being listed either on The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List or the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has been increasing in recent years. According to IUCN, out of 468 shark species, 74 are listed either as “Vulnerable”, “Endangered” or “Critically Endangered”. Annually, up to 73 million sharks are killed to satisfy our enormous demand, and Hong Kong is named as “shark fin capital” as it handles about half of the global trade in shark fin every year.

Since 2007, WWF-Hong Kong has been promoting and educating the public on shark conservation. We have been engaging caterers and corporations not to serve and consume shark fin respectively. Currently 154 corporates pledged not to consume shark fin and 115 catering businesses pledged to providing shark-free menus. We have been continuously urging the Government to implement the internal ban on shark fin since 2010, thus it is encouraging to receive a positive response from the administration.

Bluefin tuna ban
Bluefin tunas are late to mature and aggregate in large groups to feed and reproduce, making them particularly vulnerable to high fishing pressure. The fisheries management is neither comprehensive nor effective, rendering all 3 species of bluefin tunas to face the threat of overfishing. Over the last four decades, the Atlantic bluefin tuna has declined by at least 51% and is now listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. Its conservation status is similar to that of pandas and tigers. Meanwhile the Southern bluefin tuna adult fish has experienced an 85% decline, resulting in its “Critically Endangered” status.

In order to conserve the overfished and even endangered bluefin tuna, WWF launched the "Bluefin Saver" campaign in 2009, calling on all consumers and suppliers to avoid consuming and serving the species. Currently 26 restaurants pledged not to serve bluefin tuna. Besides, the DNA study on bluefin tuna conducted by WWF in 2012 revealed that Hong Kong is importing Atlantic bluefin tuna. Extending the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas into Hong Kong is necessary.

Forging Ahead
The Government’s internal ban of shark fin and bluefin tuna sends a strong conservation message to the broader society in Hong Kong. WWF applauds such initiatives and at the same time hopes that the action of the Government would not stop here. It should continue striving for sustainable use of marine resources. Mr Gavin Edwards, Conservation Director of WWF-Hong Kong said, “Currently in the market we have no way to know what species of sharks are involved in the shark fin trade and we may unknowingly consume a lot of endangered species. This commitment to ban shark fin from their dining tables is an excellent opportunity for Government to improve transparency of the trade and monitoring by collecting and reporting comprehensive shark fin trading data such as species, quantities and country of origins, complemented with DNA testing and random sampling to identify shark species in trade. This also represents an opportunity to extend the ICCAT’s convention to Hong Kong, and to help protect Hong Kong from unknowingly importing illegally caught Atlantic bluefin tuna."