WWF Launches New Sustainable Seafood Report which calls for Hong Kong to become a leader in sustainable trade and consumption | WWF Hong Kong

WWF Launches New Sustainable Seafood Report which calls for Hong Kong to become a leader in sustainable trade and consumption

07 June 2016

Tomorrow (8 June) is World Oceans Day. This is the perfect day for everyone on Earth to reflect on how we can better protect the world’s oceans. It is also a day when all of us in Hong Kong should review our consumption habits, particularly in terms of the world’s marine resources. On World Oceans Day, WWF-Hong Kong will launch a report entitled The Sustainable Seafood Movement in Hong Kong – Progress, Prospect and Challenges. The report discusses recent developments in the sustainable seafood industry in Hong Kong and also identifies where improvements can be made.
Seafood is an integral part of people’s diet in many nations, and as a result the worldwide demand for seafood has been continually rising. The global production of seafood, whether from capture or aquaculture fisheries, has expanded nearly eight-fold since the second half of the 20th century: from 20 million tonnes in 1950 to 158 million tonnes in 2012. However, this enormous growth has come at the expense of sustainability. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in 2011 as much as 90 per cent of global fisheries resources were either fully exploited or over-exploited, meaning that there is no room for these fisheries to expand further.
Despite being a small city, Hong Kong has an important role to play in providing solutions to this global challenge. The latest figures from the FAO show that Hong Kong people are the second largest per capita consumers of seafood in Asia, and the seventh largest in the world. Hong Kong imports seafood from over 170 countries and territories around the world. When looked at holistically, these facts reveal that the seafood choices we make in Hong Kong have a direct and significant impact on fisheries resources worldwide. They also underline the fact that Hong Kong has an undeniable responsibility to play a part in conserving the world’s ocean resources.
To help kick-start an active response to this issue, WWF-Hong Kong published its first Seafood Guide 2007 – the first such guide in Asia – to raise public awareness and help educate people about the importance of choosing sustainable seafood. WWF also began engaging with key industry sectors in 2010, namely the food and beverage industry and seafood suppliers, so as to improve their sourcing practices and provide sustainable seafood options to consumers.
WWF’s new report was also designed to be a kind of “status report”, providing a review of the local sustainable seafood market and containing information and viewpoints shared by restaurants, hotel groups, clubhouses, fast food chains and seafood suppliers that have commenced their sustainable seafood journey. “While this report shows that the sustainable seafood movement has taken root in society, it will also require considerable effort from the food and beverage industry, seafood suppliers, and the Hong Kong government to sustain this movement. We need these groups to take the lead and start championing the movement, so as to move a major step forward to become the most sustainable city in Asia.” said Dr Allen To, WWF’s Assistant Manager for the Footprint Programme.
The Council for Sustainable Development is tasked with providing recommendations to the government regarding the promotion of the sustainable use of biological resources such as seafood, timber and palm oil. Consumer power is the key to success: “We believe that the successful experience shared by the sustainable seafood movement in Hong Kong provides a useful reference for how we can leverage the purchasing power of seven million Hongkongers to promote sustainable trade and consumption in this city. The role of government should be to create a conducive environment to encourage and drive this change”, concludes C.W. Cheung, Senior Head of WWF’s Climate and Footprint Programmes.
The full report is available here