Hong Kong to stop serving shark fin and blue fin tuna

14 Sep 2013


The government of Hong Kong has announced it would stop serving shark fin and bluefin tuna at official functions, in a move hailed by conservation groups.

The Hong Kong government further added, it would also encourage government-funded bodies to follow suit.

World Wildlife Fund said demand for the fins and other shark-related products had led to a steep fall of 60-70 per cent in numbers.

Hong Kong, one of the world's biggest markets for shark fin, had seen imports decline partly due to a  clampdown on lavish official functions on the Chinese mainland, the final destination for many of the imports.

The population of Pacific blue fin tuna had dropped an estimated 96 per cent since the 1950s.

Another delicacy, black moss - also known as fat choy - whose cultivation had been blamed for desertification and erosion in certain areas, had also been banned at official Hong Kong functions.

The government said in a press release that it was taking the step because the items "have aroused international and local concern because they are either captured or harvested in ecologically unfriendly or unsustainable ways, or cause other conservation concerns".

The move has been hailed by conservation groups.

The ban comes as part of the city's plans to adopt sustainable food-consumption habits, the government said in a press release dated 13 September.

Over 73 million sharks' fins are sliced off every year globally, while the rest of the fish is discarded, a 20 June statement from Korean Air Lines Co said, citing research data.

The Seoul-based carrier joined Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd and Air New Zealand Ltd in refusing to transport the commodity.

A spokesman said the government would keep in view local and international trends on green living in line with a sustainability-conscious lifestyle and update the list of items from time to time.

According to Alex Hofford, executive director at MyOcean, a marine conservation group, Hong Kong was the transit point for about half of the global shark fin trade, which largely went to the Chinese market.

In July 2012, China said it would ban officials from consuming shark fin at state expense within three years.

Ma Jun, director with the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, an environmental organisation in Beijing said today, the Hong Kong government's action needed to be praised.

He added, government institutes were regulators and large buyers and banning such items would have a symbolic and practical effect on endangered species.

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