© WWF-Hong Kong

Shark conservation campaign on shipping companies

Hong Kong accounts for more than 40 per cent of the global shark fin trade. According to the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department, cross border trade transportation falls into four categories: “Air”, “Land”, “Ocean”, and “Others.” In recent years, most of the shark fin imported into Hong Kong was via the ocean route, and in 2018, 87 per cent of shark fin (by volume) imported into Hong Kong entered using the same route. The influence of shipping companies on shark conservation is undeniable.

Environmental, Legal and Reputational risks brought by shark fin carriage

Many shark species are threatened with extinction, and more and more species are now protected by international or national conventions. Added to this is the challenge in identifying efficiently the species of sharks used in shark fin products. As such, differentiating between threatened and non-threatened, and protected and unprotected species of shark presents a significant challenge for carriers and poses several legal and environmental risks. In addition, the general sentiment of societies in favor of shark conservation around the world has improved. If a shipping company continues to generate profits through shark fin carriage, they may attract unwanted public attention and negative sentiment. These Environmental, Legal and Reputational risks may well result in an economic loss for a company.

Learn more: Managing Risk – Global Shipping Companies Say No to Shark Fin


Below are the shipping companies that operate liner routes between Hong Kong and key shark fin trading partners. WWF-Hong Kong urges these companies to establish a No Shark Fin Carriage Policy and is waiting their feedback:
 
China United Lines Ltd., Kanway Line Company Limited, CK Line, Heung-A, JJ Shipping, KMTC, Namsung, Sinokor, Sinotrans
 

Shipping companies that banned shark fin shipments

Today, at least 17 global shipping companies have banned shark fin shipments
 
Maersk   MSC   CMA CGM   COSCO   Hapag-Lloyd
 
OOCL   Yang Ming   NYK Line   MOL   PIL
 
HMM   ‘K’ Line   ZIM   Wan Hai   X-PRESS FEEDERS  
 
T.S. Lines   Interasia            

WWF-Hong Kong understands the effective implementation of the no shark fin carriage policy necessitates additional steps. We have therefore created an implementation guideline tailor-made for the shipping industry.
 
Learn more: No Shark Fin Carriage Policy Implementation Guidelines
 
© Cat Holloway / WWF
As top predators of the ocean, sharks play a critical role in maintaining the marine ecosystem
© Cat Holloway / WWF
 
© WWF-Hong Kong
Managing Risk: Global Shipping Companies Say No to Shark Fin
© WWF-Hong Kong
 
© WWF-Hong Kong
No Shark Fin Carriage policy implementation guidelines
© WWF-Hong Kong

How shipping companies create their “high risk list”?

By understanding the high-risk shippers and consignees list, the high-risk trading partners, the high-risk language and wording, shipping companies can create their own high-risk list, which helps prioritize resources to undertake necessary checking.
 
  • High risk shippers and consignees list
WWF-Hong Kong keeps looking at relevant trade records to continuously monitor the trade and keep this list updated. This information can be shared with shipping companies directly upon request.
 
  • High risk trading partners’ countries/regions
Hong Kong is the important shark fin trading hub. The trends as observed in Hong Kong can be applied globally to help shipping companies tackle this global issue.
 
Table 1
2017 Shark Fin Top Import Countries/Regions to Hong Kong
Table 2
2017 Top Shark Fin Re-Export Countries/Regions from Hong Kong

Ranking

Countries/Regions

1

Singapore

2

Spain

3

Senegal

4

Indonesia

5

Taiwan

Ranking

Countries/Regions

1

Vietnam

2

Macau

3

Singapore

4

Thailand

5

The Mainland of China

Learn more: No Shark Fin Carriage Policy Implementation Guidelines
 
  • High risk shark fin loading ports
Shark fin imported to Hong Kong worldwide. Click the map below to know the high-risk loading ports
 
© Chai / WWF-Hong Kong
© Chai / WWF-Hong Kong
  • High risk language and wording
English is always the language used for bills of lading. Some shipping companies, however, accept other languages such as Spanish to complete the bills of lading. This presents a challenge to shipping companies to effectively screen commodity descriptions of shark fin in various lanugages other than English.
 
The following table shows the word “shark” and “shark fin” in different languages. Shipping companies shall be more alerted when they receive relevant shipment requests. 
 
  Chinese French Indonesia Spanish Vietnamese
Shark Fin 魚翅 / 鱼翅 Aileron de requin Sirip hiu Aleta de tiburón Vi cá mập
Shark 鯊魚 / 鲨鱼 Requin Hiu Tiburón Cá mập

WWF-Hong Kong has come across cases where "shark" and "shark fin" were not used as commodity descriptions. Instead, shippers or consignees would use the shark species name or the combination of shark common name with "fin", for example “blue fin”, instead of “blue shark fin”

Learn more: No Shark Fin Carriage Policy Implementation Guidelines

Implementation process

An effective implementation guide for shipping companies can help identify suspicious shark fin shipments. This guideline should at a minimum include processes and tools.
 
  • Mandate harmonized code on the bill of lading
The World Customs Organization Harmonized System code (WCO HS code) should be on any bills of lading. It is currently not a mandatory requirement.
 
  • Provide relevant information to Customs authorities in advance
WWF-Hong Kong urges all shipping companies to minimize the risk of their involvement in the illegal wildlife trade by submitting all relevant documents to Customs through e-channels or other available channels in advance.
 
  • Improve the screening system
For companies that banned shark fin shipments, efforts to improve their booking system will help avoid shark fin shipments.

Suggested screening process

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Suggested screening process
© WWF-Hong Kong
  • Training of front line staff
Front line staff are the gate keepers for accepting or rejecting shark fin shipments, therefore adequate and frequent training is needed using a well-defined screening process.   
 
  • Cooperation with environmental NGOs
Global environmental NGOs such as WWF are well positioned to provide up-to-date information including trade patterns, domestic regulations regarding shark fin and tools to help identify and avoid carrying shark fin shipments.

Learn more: No Shark Fin Carriage Policy Implementation Guidelines