Petition to Legco that criticises eating of shark fin contains tainted information

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 June, 2012, 12:00am


I refer to the Lai See item ('Unhealthy appetite for cruelty in world's shark-fin capital, June 5) on a recent petition to legislators in Hong Kong, which once again criticises Chinese people for eating shark fin. It is signed by 41 scientists.

There's nothing new about the campaign hype, but the political deception is noteworthy. This petition was not 'home grown' by the University of Hong Kong and two Hong Kong NGOs as implied; they were simply the postmen. It originated in the United States and was posted on the internet in March. The founder of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Shark Specialist Group - Dr Samuel Gruber, an American - distributed it with involvement by the very wealthy US-based Pew Institute, with assets of more than US$5 billion and income of more than US$350 million per year derived through its campaigns. Pew is the major organisation targeting Chinese people over shark fin, yet it says little about global shark fisheries being driven by the demand for shark meat in the Western world.

More disturbing, 30 of the signatures are from North America, four of whom are known beneficiaries of Pew charities. Nine are from members of IUCN specialist groups that make the union's determinations about 'endangered' species. The claim in the petition that IUCN determinations should take precedence over those of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, with access to tens of thousands of marine fisheries experts throughout the world, is at best self-serving. Even the IUCN says its determinations should be treated as policy relevant not policy prescriptive.

The administration of the next chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, would do well to exercise extreme caution in its response to what is in essence a commercial marketing exercise that lacks scientific substance.

Charlie Lim, The Marine Products Association