WWF launches latest Seafood Guide to encourage sustainable seafood on Shark Awareness Day
Boston Lobster joins shark and eels, and listed as “Red-Avoid” Category
The revised Guide has been updated to include more seafood items commonly chosen by Hong Kong people. Some species popular on local menus are in the “Red – Avoid” category. The Boston lobster, a popular species with Hong Kong diners, and previously recommended, has been updated to “Red – Avoid” joining other red-category species such as sharks, bluefin tuna and eels. Michelle Wong, Conservation Officer, Oceans at WWF-Hong Kong, explained the reason, “Although the Boston lobster is not threatened with extinction, its harvesting ground overlaps with the habitat of the North Atlantic right whale. The North Atlantic right whale was moved from Endangered to Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species last year, with bycatch and entanglement in lobster fishing gear as key threats to the whale species. So consumers are advised to choose “Green – Recommended” species - such as rock lobster from Western Australia. Using our Seafood Guide means diners can still enjoy Hong Kong’s delicious cuisine while supporting businesses that protect the ocean.”
Available in a mobile-friendly website format (wwf.hk/seafood-guide-en), the latest Seafood Guide serves as a handy yet comprehensive tool for both public and seafood suppliers to check the sustainability status of more than 70 seafood species common in Hong Kong. Users can browse the species, origin and harvesting methods in the website, as well as their overall status as “Green – Recommended”, “Yellow – Think Twice” and “Red – Avoid”. All seafood species, wild caught or farmed, included in the Guide were rigorously assessed by marine scientists following stringent criteria compiled collaboratively by WWF and other NGOs. The latest guide includes a number of new additions, including mackerel (“Yellow – Think Twice”, depending on the production method), amberjack (“Yellow – Think Twice”), which are frequently used in Japanese restaurant menus, and Greenland halibut (“Yellow – Think Twice”). There are also new additions to the “Green – Recommended”list, such as European anchovy, red king crab, ox crab/brown crab, rock lobster, and spot prawn.
WWF-Hong Kong also calls attention to the lack of information provided on seafood packaging, which limits consumers ability to make the right choices when buying seafood. The seafood industry should provide more transparent and complete food labelling for consumers’ reference, and to play a more proactive role in promoting sustainable seafood. Suppliers can actively expand the seafood range by including more “Green – Recommended” and “Yellow – Think Twice” items to their product lists and menus. In addition to referring to the Seafood Guide, consumers are advised to review product information upon purchase, and further check with the retailers or restaurants when in doubt.
Hong Kong ranks the second highest in Asia in terms of per capita seafood consumption, exceeding places like Japan and Malaysia, and our seafood choices have a direct and significant impact on fisheries resources worldwide. WWF-Hong Kong hopes that residents will use the guide to choose sustainable seafood, and avoid “Red – Avoid” category items such as sharks and rays. Gloria Lai, Sustainability Manager at WWF-Hong Kong, remarks “The import of shark fin in the city continues to drop, with a 40% decrease in year-on-year imports from 2,792 tonnes in 2019 to 1,655 tonnes in 2020, according to figures from the Census and Statistics Department. Though the numbers have dropped significantly, it is important for everyone to stay conscious, say no to shark fin and choose sustainable options using the Seafood Guide”.
Professor Laurence McCook, Director of Oceans Conservation at WWF-Hong Kong says “Seafood is an integral part of many people’s diets and central to Hong Kong’s world-famous cuisine. The seafood choices we make can make a significant impact on the world’s oceans. We hope that the Seafood Guide can help everyone understand the importance of choosing sustainable seafood. In this way, we can enjoy delicious seafood and still help protect our oceans for future generations.”