Shark fin and bluefin tuna banned from official banquets

Posted on: September 18th, 2013 by Hannah Darrin

By Gabriela Raffaele

drying shark finsThe Hong Kong government has committed to supporting sustainability by banning shark fin and bluefin tuna from its official menus.

Concerned about the unsustainability and ecologically unfriendly methods of catching shark fin, Pacific bluefin tuna and of harvesting black moss, the government has decided to scrape them off their official entertainment functions in an effort to set an example and raise public awareness regarding conservation issues. Officials have also been instructed not to eat them even if they are served at non-government banquets, the BBC reported.

In an official statement, the Hong Kong government said that: “The Government is determined to take the lead and set a good example on this front that goes beyond the minimum expectation as laid down in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).”

“Since it is not possible to list out all food items of concern exhaustively, the exclusion of these three items from official menus is a start and also serves as an example of raising public education and awareness on sustainability. The Government will keep in view the local and international trends on green living in line with a sustainability-conscious lifestyle and update the list of items from time to time,” an official spokesman pointed out.

Departments and bureaux will try and urge other organisations to follow suit.

Hong Kong is the biggest market for shark fin. Demand for this product as well as for other shark-related products has meant some shark species have declined by as much as 60 per cent – 70 per cent, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reports.

Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis) stocks have gone down by as much as 96 per cent since the 1950s, according to the BBC.

WWF Hong Kong welcomed the government initiative and rated the conservation of these resources as a good move. It also expressed hope that the government can continue “to show its support by improving trade transparency” and shark and bluefin tuna follow-up.