Shark's fin demand in Hong Kong already on decline, ban makes little difference
- POSTED: 17 Sep 2013 00:49
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The Hong Kong government has banned shark's fin from being served at official functions, but the demand for the delicacy in the SAR is already on the decline.
HONG KONG: The Hong Kong government has banned shark's fin from being served at official functions, following years of lobbying by conservation groups.
But the demand for shark's fin in the SAR (Special Administrative Region) is already on the decline, and the latest ban will make little difference.
Shark's fin soup is a Chinese culinary delicacy, usually served at wedding banquets.
But in recent years, the tide has been turning, with environmental groups like the WWF highlighting the wasteful nature of harvesting fins, impact to the ecosystem and several species driven to extinction.
Traders in Sheung Wan district, along the area commonly known as Dried Seafood Street, have seen their business badly affected.
Kwong Hung-Kwan, the director of Kwan Kee Shark's Fin Ltd, said: "The shark's fin business hasn't been good these past two years because of the criticisms from the conservation groups, and the economy also hasn't been that good.
“Our shark's fin business isn't very big, it's now smaller than before.”
Mr Yu, from Yan Tak Tai Kee Co, said: " The selling price has fallen about 50% since the controls were in place."
The trading of shark's fin is not regulated in Hong Kong, but the city is a signatory of multilateral treaty cities, which bans the trading of three shark species - the basking shark, the great white shark and the whale shark.
Hong Kong remains a major trading hub for shark's fin, accounting for more than 50 per cent of global trade.
Because of the vast quantities that it imports and exports, Hong Kong sets the market price for shark fins globally.
Latest figures show that Hong Kong imported more than 10,200 tonnes of shark fin in 2011.
Legislator Tommy Cheung Yu-Yan represents the catering industry in the city, and his constituents, the restaurants are not happy about the new ban by the government as it will hurt business.
But at the same time, he also acknowledges that it is now socially acceptable to leave shark's fin soup off the menu at wedding banquets.
Mr Cheung, the legislator of the catering industry, said: " I haven't had shark's fin, and I go to wedding banquets, 20-30 times a year. I haven't had shark's fin for quite a while, simply for the reason that banquet costs have gone up quite drastically.
“Shark's fin is an expensive item, and people now have gotten used to not having shark's fin."
Last year, hotel group Shangri-La took shark's fin off its menu, and Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific also stopped carrying shark products on its cargo flights.