WWF-Hong Kong updates its Seafood Guide | WWF Hong Kong

WWF-Hong Kong updates its Seafood Guide

Posted
24 August 2017


WWF-Hong Kong updates its Seafood Guide
 
There is a great demand for seafood in Hong Kong - the average resident of the territory consumes 66.5 kilogrammes in a year, or about three times the global average.  As about 90 percent of the seafood we eat here is imported, sourced from more than 170 countries or territories, the choices we make can have a huge impact on the world’s oceans.
 
WWF-Hong Kong published its first Seafood Guide in 2007 and a further update in 2013. The Seafood Guide is a useful tool both for members of the public and food and beverage industry professionals who want to discover the sustainability status of some 70 of the seafood species most commonly found in Hong Kong. Clearly stated information allows them to make wise choices when buying and consuming seafood. The WWF globally has made assessments of the stock levels of the relevant species, harvesting methods and farm or fisheries management, information reviewed by third party marine scientists. The organisation subsequently classifies the seafood into three categories:
 
Green - Recommended
Yellow - Think Twice
Red - Avoid.
 
This year, the WWF-Hong Kong Seafood Guide has been updated. Here are the key changes
 
South African Abalone
 
Abalone caught in South Africa was previously in the Yellow - Think Twice category but is now classified under Red - Avoid. The species is slow-growing, taking eight-10 years to reach legal fishing size and up to eight years to reach sexual maturity. These two biological characteristics make South African abalone particularly vulnerable to over-exploitation.
 
Although commercial fisheries were closed from 2008-2010 and all seven fishing zones were allocated a Total Allowable Catch based on stock assessments, a severe poaching problem and the continued allocation of commercial catch rights in severely overfished areas shows ineffective management. According to a report published by the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, poachers from local communities recruited by organized criminal syndicates are paid for their service with illegal drugs. All abalone legally or illegally harvested in South Africa is exported to East Asia, where Hong Kong is at the epicentre of the international trade. In a sense, buying abalone caught in South Africa will further exacerbate overfishing and may even be supporting poaching there.
 
 
As South African abalone is a traditional Chinese luxury, consumers may welcome the farmed alternative now available. This has been added to the Green - Recommended category as it is the same species as the wild-caught abalone but is farmed on land, in tanks along the coast. Some farms are integrating seaweed culture with abalone farming which reduces the final amount of waste that is discharged into the sea.
 
Yellowfin Tuna
 
Previously wild-caught Yellowfin tuna fell into two categories, either Yellow - Think Twice or Red - Avoid, the difference being due to the catch method. Now the Yellowfin tuna caught in the Philippines and Indonesia using handline method has improved its sustainability rating from Yellow-Think Twice to Green-Recommended. As handline is relatively selective and has no damaging impact on the seafloor, it is probably one of the most benign catch methods. Types of handline include simple handline, jigger, multiple hook and line and troll line. However, another relatively commonly used catch method for Yellowfin tuna fisheries in Indonesia is longlining - fish caught this way remains in the Red - Avoid category due to its high bycatch rate. No matter whether you are a seafood supplier or buyer, you should choose Yellowfin tuna that is caught by handlines in the Philippines or Indonesia.
 
Other than those changes, there are some other new additions to the Seafood Guide, such as New Zealand farmed mussel, Asian farmed eel and shark. Download our seafood guide mobile app and check them out now!
 
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