Monday, April 16, 2012

An Important Petition From Hong Kong

When it comes to petitions, we try to steer our readers and followers towards taking actions that lead to solid policy outcomes. Consumer campaigns certainly play a role in protecting shark species, but we try to focus on supporting policies that ban the trade of shark, create shark sanctuaries, or in someway mandate a reduction in the number of sharks killed.


The Hong Kong Shark Foundation has a petition going that we think is important. They are asking the Hong Kong SAR Government to make it public policy not to serve shark products at official functions.


Hong Kong is the center of the global shark fin trade, and if the government were to set a policy of not serving shark fin, it would set a precedent for moving towards a total ban on the shark fin trade.

Some people who have tried to sign the petition have had trouble with the address and the mailing code. If this is a problem for you, go ahead and use 1000 Shark Defenders Street for the address and 73mil for the mailing code.


Here is more information from the petition website:
Sharks are fundamental to maintaining the balance of the marine ecosystem. As apex predators at the top of the food chain, sharks help regulate the abundance and diversity of the extraordinary marine life beneath them. Declining populations therefore directly affect the health of our oceans.

Shark populations worldwide are in rapid decline from overfishing and habitat destruction. In some regions, populations have fallen by as much as 90%. According to the globally recognised International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), almost 56% of shark species (where there is sufficient data to determine conservation status) are at high risk of extinction either now or in the near future. That’s 143 shark species!

The demand for shark fin soup is driving this decline. The fins from up to 73 million sharks are traded worldwide each year (around 200,000 sharks per day!). Based on official (FAO) statistics, global shark catches are likely to be underestimated by an astonishing three to four fold.

Hong Kong is the centre of the global shark fin trade, being responsible for approximately 50% of global imports annually. The trade is highly valuable to a relatively small number of traders with retail prices ranging from 1650 HK$/kg (212USD) to 14,550HK$ /kg (1870USD).

The Hong Kong trade is unregulated. No scientific identification i.e. genetic test of imported fins is required other than for the three species protected under UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Research published in 2006 showed that approximately 40% of the auctioned fin weight in the Hong Kong shark fin market came from 14 shark species listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Recent research conducted in 2011 also confirmed that IUCN Red List Species are being traded in Hong Kong.

The HKSAR government’s behaviour is contrary to its own assertion that it ‘pays heed to the principles of sustainable development and to the commendable foresight it demonstrated recently upon becoming a signatory to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. The aim of the Convention is the conservation of biological diversity and the sustainable use of the components of biological diversity. To date there is only one relatively small MSC-certified shark fishery which cannot support the demand of the global shark fin trade.

Shark fin soup is widely consumed in Hong Kong and is served largely on special occasions, such as banquets and official functions. In a recent survey, 73% of Hong Kong people had consumed shark fin in the previous 12 months, compared to just 6% for shark liver capsules and 3% for shark meat.

The Hong Kong government includes 69 departments/agencies as well as 15 policy bureaus (including government secretariat) and public funds are used for official dining parties and banquets. The Government states that its banquets should ‘not include expensive food or endangered species’ and that its menus do not ‘generally include shark fin’. However, it does NOT monitor the use of public funds in this regard nor whether banquet menus actually include shark fin. Nor does it ‘think it appropriate to lay down guidelines to regulate the kind of food consumed at banquets’. We ask quite simply, in the interests of sustainability and the public purse, WHY NOT?

Join us in requesting that the Hong Kong Government demonstrates its principles of sustainability by establishing a formal policy that shark and shark fin must not be served at HKSAR Government banquets, dining parties or other official functions. It’s a request that not only reaffirms the Governments own statements, but is both realistic and achievable.

鯊魚在維持海洋生態平衡上,擔當不可或缺的角色。作為海洋食物鏈的頂層捕獵者,鯊魚主宰了所有下層海洋生物的 數量和種類的多寡。

面對過度捕撈和棲息地被破壞,全球鯊魚數量正在急速下降;個別地區更下跌 9成。根據國際知名的世界自然保護聯盟所作的統計,近5成6,亦即是143種鯊魚品種已即將或正在面臨絕種威脅(這還未包括其他缺乏統計數據的品種)。

人們對魚翅的需求直接促使鯊魚數量的下滑。按全球魚翅交易量顯示,每年有多達7千3百萬條鯊魚被捕撈(亦即每日20萬條!)。而根據 聯合國糧食及農業組織的統計,確實數字應多3至4倍。 WHY LOBBY THE HKSAR GOVERNMENT? 為什麼向政府遊說?

香港是全球 魚翅貿易總樞紐,每年,約百分之五十魚翅在本港經銷。香港魚翅商不多,以零售價每公斤$1,650港幣(212美元)至$1,4550港幣 (1,870美元)看來,營業額十分可觀。

政府對魚翅貿易監管不足。政府對魚翅貿易監管不足,例如為所有進口魚翅進行基因測試鑑定品種,而現時卻只有3種受《瀕危野生動植物種國際貿易公約》保護的 鯊魚的魚翅接受基因測試。2006年一項研究卻指出,約4成在香港交易的魚翅來自14種被《世界自然保護聯盟瀕危物種紅色名錄》列為「瀕危」或「易危」的 鯊魚。2011年也有研究證實,《世界自然保護聯盟瀕危物種紅色名錄》中的鯊魚物種的確在港經銷。

特區政府曾承諾支持可持續發展原則,早前更簽署了《生物多樣性公 約》;卻一直沒有實際行動。《生物多樣性公約》的主要目的是保障生物多樣性,和可持續地利用其組成部分。至今,世界上只有一個規模很小而被海洋管理委員會 認可的鯊魚漁業,實不足以滿足世界各地對魚翅的殷切需求。

在香港,各大小宴會的菜單上必定有魚翅。最近一項民 意調查顯示,超過7成港人過去1年內曾經進食魚翅,而曾進食鯊魚肝油丸和鯊魚肉的就分別只有百分之六和三。

香港特區政府包含69個部門及15個決策局(組成政府總部),各部門舉行的宴會開支都由公帑支付。政府曾表明所 有宴會都「不會食用貴價食材和瀕危物種」,而菜單「一般都不會有魚翅」。但事實上,政府並沒有監管這方面公帑的使用或規定宴會上不用魚翅款客;而有關宴會 上可提供菜式的明確指引,政府內部根本沒有列出。事情既涉及可持續發展原則,又關乎公帑使用,何不加以規管?


And what are those petitions we've asked you to sign?

We have asked you to take the Shark Defenders pledge so that we can contact you from time to time to help, asked you to (successfully) protect sharks in Guam and Washington, and to (less successfully) protect whale sharks from purse seiners on the high seas, oceanic whitetip and hammerhead sharks in US waters, close down the shark fin trade in the United States, and protect grey nurse sharks in Australia. We also asked you to support shark protections in southeastern Mexico.

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