A factory rooftop in Kennedy Town carpeted in thousands of freshly sliced shark fins is proof the trade still thrives in the region, environmentalists said yesterday.
"Hong Kong people consume a lot [of shark fins], but most are dried and exported to mainland China," said Alex Hofford, of the Hong Kong Shark Foundation. "People who consume shark fin soup are greedy [because they ignore the animal rights issue]."
Hong Kong is one of the world's largest markets for shark fins, which are used in expensive soups eaten as a prestigious delicacy at Chinese banquets.
The estimated 30,000 fins on the building's rooftop yesterday are believed to be from mako sharks. Veteran trader Chan Pak-luk said they were worth HK$80-HK$90 per kilogram.
During a visit to the site by the South China Morning Post, workers were found spreading the fins on the rooftop of the Kwong Ga Factory Building.
"They have to be dried in the sun for at least a week," said one worker, who refused to be named. "They were imported from overseas countries, but I am not sure where exactly they are from."
Chan, owner of the Wo Loong Ho Sharksfin Company, said it was uncommon for traders to dry fins on a Hong Kong rooftop, since most production had moved to the mainland.
He said it was unfair for concern groups to blame China alone for the dwindling shark population. "Westerners have shark meat for meals regularly," he said. "We just consume different parts of the fish."
Hong Kong has imported 10,000 tonnes of fins annually for the past decade, the environmental group WWF said.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature said one-third of all shark species are threatened with extinction.