• Tue
  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 12:38pm
NewsHong Kong

Shark fin trade 'victim of anti-Chinese conspiracy', say traders

Criticism from Western-led green groups has slashed industry by 50 per cent in past year

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 January, 2013, 10:16am

Shark fin traders in Hong Kong blasted an "anti-Chinese conspiracy" by environmentalists, whose constant bombardment of criticism they say is killing their business.

"The whole industry has recorded a [sales] decrease of 50 per cent on last year," Shark Fin Trade Merchants Association chairman Ho Siu-chai said. "[The decline] is mainly due to the omnipresent advocacy by green groups."

Ho said his industry was being targeted by an anti-Chinese conspiracy led by "Western" environmental groups. "They always blame us for cutting off fins and dumping carcasses at sea. This is not true and is distorted," he said.

The strong hostility to the trade has seen about 30 per cent of shark fin shops close down in recent years, Ho estimated, adding that some traders had been forced to sell other dried seafood, such as abalone and scallops.

Ho's shop Siu Fung Shark Marine Products is at the western end of Des Voeux Road in Sai Ying Pun where rows of musty shops sell a vast array of dried food, from mushrooms to seahorses.

It is also a hub for the global shark fin trade, taking about half the world's total fin harvest, says environmental group WWF.

Veteran trader Kwong Hung-kwan, owner of Shark's Fin City in Sheung Wan, said Hong Kong had become an entrepot for the product. "Nowadays, Hongkongers consume about 10 per cent of our imports," he said. "The rest is shipped to China, the US, Canada and Malaysia for Chinese there to consume."

Census and Statistics Department figures show that shark fin imports have reduced from 10,292 tonnes in 2011 to 3,087 tonnes last year, up to November.

Fins now mainly come from the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Indonesia and Taiwan.

"It's getting more difficult to do business in the city because of the conservationists," Kwong said. "That's why traders now import less."

Environmentalists have campaigned against the trade in fins - an expensive staple at weddings and banquets - saying the harvesting methods are cruel and that shark populations have declined dramatically as a result.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature says a third of all shark species are threatened with extinction.

Correction: In the eighth paragraph, the numbers of 2011 and 2012 shark fin imports should be "10,292 tonnes" and "3,087 tonnes" respectively, instead of "10.3 tonnes" and "3.1 tonnes," as stated in an earlier version.


Related topics

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

I am part of the new Chinese-American generation and I partially agree with some of the comments here. Newgalileo makes a good point. I AM one of the new generation that says we must stop the senseless killing of animals for their body parts. I am against Ivory, I have stopped eating Shark Fin, I don't believe in the Rhino horn or Tiger **** for virility. I work out and that keeps me quite virile. And I am totally against the Ivory trade. I won't buy any Ivory and ask my friend not to either. However, there is one more very important point that non-Asians won't admit and it bothers me. We have seen in history that many Europeans and Non-Asians slaughtered animals for fun. They want to "bagged" a Tiger or an Elephant and then take their picture proudly over a dying animal and ALL IN THE NAME OF FUN! That totally disgusts me. I remember visiting the an aquarium in Southern California and there is a long notice about Chinese cultural medicine and how we abuse animals for their medical value. Listen up people, back in the old days before foreigners came to China, there were an abundance of animals and their numbers were never in danger. But that aquarium also never talked about non-Asians hunting down and killing animals for fun. In the 1800s, so much hunting was done that that was what caused the animal population to decline and we are where are today due to this fact. Look at what America did to the Bison when they invaded this land. Done ranting.
If it's an "anti-Chinese conspiracy," why have Yao Ming and Zhang Yue called for a shark fin ban in China?
"International conservation organization WildAid, Chinese basketball star and WildAid Ambassador, Yao Ming, and leading Chinese entrepreneur Zhang Yue have joined forces with British entrepreneur, Sir Richard Branson and his non-profit foundation Virgin Unite, in a global campaign to save sharks. Branson and Yao filmed public service announcements in support of WildAid’s shark campaign drawing attention to the increasing demand for shark fin soup and the devastating effect this demand is having on global shark populations."
As apex-predators, sharks control oceanic ecosystems worldwide. Unless the shark fin trade is curtailed, fish stocks will dwindle further. Sustainable seafood is the trade smart merchants embrace.
Shark fin is expensive, tough, tasteless cartilage with high levels of mercury. No wonder people are rejecting it. Hong Kongers are superb businesspeople, and few will remain in this dying industry. Those supporting it sound like tobacco-industry shills.
Anti-Chinese, yes, but also anti-Asian. The trade should be totally killed. Just look also how many elephants, rhinos, bears and other animals are slaughtered to satisfy the demand from Chinese, and other Asians, who have a total disregard for the planet but believe in unscientific remedies and superstition and want to show off their wealth. Total lack of shame. Just recently immense quantities of smuggled ivory were found in Hong Kong and other cities. Then they wonder people "don't like them"? It is up to the new generation of Chinese to change that and that is fortunately happening already.
How else will Asian men prove their virility in bed if they can't get rhino horn or some other silly superstitious "med" to make them supermen?
Exercise, healthy living and care about how the woman feels in the relationship are just stupid foreign concepts about good sexual relations...
"shark fin imports have reduced from 10,292 tonnes in 2011 to 3,087 tonnes last year, up to November." awesome news!!!
Everything's a convenient foreign devil, evil conspiracy... the victim card is played yet again much like the Chinese communist party propaganda... ho hum...
Do something to make the world and your community a better place...
Not only hong Kong slashed to 0% shark fin, but the whole world too.
We will work until there is shame, not status in eating and using any non sustainable, endangered animal, be it shark fin, gill rakers, or bear bile, etc. and they are banned.
I'd find another line of work if I were them...
Another foreign conspiracy haha
So when can we expect it to be slashed to 0%?
Hong Kong person speaking here.



SCMP.com Account