Tuna need shield

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 September, 2009, 12:00am

Conservation group WWF wants Hong Kong's government to join Monaco in calling for a ban on the trade of endangered northern bluefin tuna.

The Principality of Monaco submitted a proposal to include northern bluefin tuna on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) on July 27. Then, several countries including France and Britain joined Monaco's call.

WWF Hong Kong's head of marine programme Dr Guillermo Moreno says if this globally threatened species was listed on Appendix I, no country which is a signatory to Cites - including the mainland - would but or sell the fish.

Moreno pointed out that according to the trade statistics, the amount of bluefin tuna imported to Hong Kong has jumped from 46 tonnes to 144 tonnes since 2006.

Yet consumption does not appear to have increased proportionally to the amount imported. This indicates that apart from a big consumer, Hong Kong might be one of the major Asian repositories of frozen bluefin tuna.

WWF launched a campaign in July to ask for caterers to stop selling bluefin tuna.

So far, 11 hotels and restaurants have pledged not to have this fish on their menus. They hope to see more businesses joining the campaign.

Moreno says there are currently some businesses which rely on the trade and consumption of bluefin, or use it as a gimmick.

But he believes there are many other ways of promoting their businesses in a more sustainable and responsible manner.

Some consumers do agree with Moreno. 'I used to be a big tuna sashimi lover. But after I realised the bluefin tuna is going to disappear from our planet soon, I stopped eating it. I discourage my friends and relatives from eating it too,' said secondary school student Alex Cheung Ka-chun.

'We have many other fish to choose from, we don't need to eat bluefin.'