Hong Kong charities, unions and political organisations refuse to ‘say no to shark’s fin’

Only 27pc of 327 groups invited pledged not to serve controversial delicacy at company functions

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 November, 2016, 3:50pm
UPDATED : Friday, 04 November, 2016, 11:27pm

An overwhelming majority – 73 per cent – of Hong Kong’s public organisations are still not willing to drop consumption of shark’s fin after three years of encouragement from the government to do so, the Hong Kong Shark Foundation said.

The foundation, a charity for shark conservation, invited 327 public organisations to sign a “Say NO To Shark Fin” charter from August to October this year. Yet 73 per cent of those invited either refused or did not respond.

Only 87 organisations – 27 per cent – made the pledge not to serve shark’s fin at their company events or when treating customers.

“The result is very disappointing. We expected the government’s guidelines in 2013 to have an effect on ... promoting the protection of sharks ... but obviously that is just an illusion,” the foundation’s campaign head Prentice Koo Wai-muk said.

The invitations were sent to organisations for the first time after the government introduced a new guideline on official entertainment functions in 2013 that stopped officials from eating shark’s fin when representing the government at functions and encouraged subsidised public organisations to follow suit.

Yet out of 27 public organisations funded by the government, seven did not respond to the foundation when asked how they had implemented the guideline over the past three years.

The organiser emailed the questions to those polled and then phoned them to confirm if they had received the email.

“Some famous and well-established organisations were unwilling to join because traditionally they have many formal dinners, and therefore have a bigger chance of including shark’s fin on their menu,” Koo said.

Among organisations that did not make the pledge, the Community Chest responded by saying their charitable events would include the eating of shark’s fin, while the Red Cross said they would not join after discussion.

In addition, four major pro-establishment parties have not signed the charter, namely the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, the Liberal Party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions.

Koo slammed the unions in particular for continuing to hold shark’s fin cooking classes every year.

The foundation is calling on the government to go beyond the current guidelines and lay out binding regulations for subsidised organisations, and to create a database mapping out local consumption of endangered species.