Image credit: Steve Garner.
Earlier this week, we relayed news of a 90% drop in the Hong Kong to mainland shark fin trade. More good news for shark-lovers: A recent report from WWF-Hong Kong has further shown that the overall volume of shark fin products imported into Hong Kong dropped by 34.7 percent last year.
Overall imports into Hong Kong fell from 8,285.1 metric tons in 2012 to 5,412.2 metric tons in 2013, according to WWF. There was also a significant decline in shark fin re-export volumes to China, making Vietnam the top re-export location in 2013.
Right now, there’s no easy way to monitor trade trends in shark fin products. Tracy Tsang, a WWF Senior Program Officer, said the government could help improve the harmonized code system by allowing the identification of shark species that need to be tracked.
“Scientific identification, through DNA testing of randomly-sampled shark fins, could also be deployed for verification purposes,” she said.
“To better regulate the shark fin trade and improve its transparency, WWF calls on the Hong Kong government to begin collecting and releasing full statistics on the shark fin trade, including the species, volumes and countries of origin.”
The trade decrease has been attributed in part to a lessening demand for shark fin soup.
“Shark-free banquets have become more popular over the past two years. At least 20 per cent more wedding couples now choose shark-free banquets,” wedding planner Tim Lau said at a WWF press conference.
In September 2013, Hong Kong’s government announced plans to drop shark fin soup from the menus at official banquets and to ban employees from eating the dish elsewhere. The policy was put in place after a similar crackdown in the mainland resulted in a 70 percent drop in shark fin consumption at the end of 2012.
WWF’s “Say No to Shark Fin” campaign, among others like it, have seen a steady flow of supporters in recent years, from selfie-loving netizens on Weibo to actress Maggie Q with WildAid.
As of the beginning of April, WWF says that 169 corporations have taken the “No Shark Fin Corporate Pledge,” and 116 caterers joined WWF-Hong Kong’s Alternative Shark Free Menu program.