Globally shark populations continue to decline and despite this being the Year of Biodiversity, eight endangered shark species recently failed to be listed on Appendix 2 of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). Such a listing would have afforded some protection through trade restrictions.
In 2009, ADMCF provided funds to BLOOM Association and WWF Hong Kong to support detailed research into the toxicology of shark fins as well as their consumption, cultural attitudes and overall trade in Hong Kong. The aim of the research is to inform a scientifically backed campaign to significantly reduce shark fin consumption locally. Estimates are that 50 percent of the global shark fin trade passes through Hong Kong.
Since the research started, the momentum in Hong Kong and overseas against sharks finning has gained significant ground, with other groups such as theHong Kong Shark Foundation and Shark Savers stepping into the loose coalition. Today there are no fewer than seven groups campaigning to reduce the consumption of shark fin soup in Hong Kong.
Showing the growing attention paid to the topic over the past year, 18,000 people joined a Facebook campaign against eating shark fin soup. Another 9,000 signed up to a pledge to give 30 percent less gift money to couples serving the soup at their wedding.
In July, ADMCF also supported the release of a photographic journal of sharks covering the natural environment, shark finning and the Hong Kong shark fin trade – in a book entitled ‘Man & Shark.’
In all, 180 Hong Kong schools pledged not to serve the delicacy at official functions. Highlighting the business risk, a Citibank credit card shark fin promotion backfired following a letter-writing campaign led by the HK Shark Foundation. As a result, Citibank canceled the promotion and has since adopted a shark-free policy.
Finally, ahead of Donald Tsang’s policy address in October, in a well-attended press conference sponsored by ADMCF local groups asked the chief executive to remove shark fin from government banquet menus.
As the final results of the Hong Kong University research are being analysed, WWF and BLOOM have convened a coalition of the organizations in Hong Kong working on the issue, with the aim of leveraging resources and maximizing impact in the execution of an effective campaign.
Using the research findings and in collaboration with a range of organisations, a shark campaign is being developed that addresses, education, the hospitality/food industry, government lobbying and both public and corporate action.
The results of the cultural attitude survey conducted by HK University on behalf of BLOOM and the toxicology analysis will be announced along with the launch of a campaign alter this year covering corporates and restaurants. WWF results on the shark fin trade will be available early next year.