Hong Kong is a city of seafood lovers and a trade hub for marine products. Despite its relatively small size (population: 7 million), in 2013, Hong Kong imported USD 3.2 billion of fish and seafood products, making it the tenth largest global importer of seafood by value. Knowledge and awareness of the plight of our oceans and deteriorating fish stocks is, however, low, with many Hong Kong residents believing the ocean has an unlimited supply of fish.
Hong Kong is also a significant global market for ecologically vulnerable and poorly governed, yet highly valuable seafood products such as shark fin, live reef fish, abalone and sea cucumber. It is a hub for illegal and undocumented products, facilitated in large part by its free port status, excellent port facilities and proximity to mainland China. Shark fin is the most valuable seafood product imported into Hong Kong and this accounts for around half of the global fin trade. Scientific data clearly indicate that numerous shark populations are in dramatic decline. Of 465 species of sharks, 141 are threatened or near threatened, i.e. at risk of extinction now or in the near future.
As shark populations around the world decline, the shark fin trade continues as one of the main drivers. Hong Kong is also the trade hub for about 50% of live reef fish traded globally, as well as for many other marine species, many of which are threatened. In contrast to North America and Europe, there is no substantive sustainable seafood market. There is extremely limited traceability and unsustainable products such as live reef fish remain popular.