US diplomat joins the fight against shark fin

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 June, 2014, 2:50am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 June, 2014, 2:50am

The United States' top diplomat in Hong Kong yesterday refused to bite when asked about the city's hot political issues yesterday as he focused on the plight of sharks.

Consul Clifford Hart joined conservationists and undersecretary for the environment Christine Loh Kung-wai for a panel discussion on the shark fin trade, which he slammed as "enormously cruel and wasteful".

The delicacy is popular with Chinese communities around the world and is often served at wedding banquets. About half of the global trade goes through Hong Kong, dubbed the "shark fin capital of the world".

But shark finning has been condemned as cruel and unsustainable by conservationists and has been banned in many parts of the world.

Hart said "serious progress" was being made to wipe out shark fin, as hotels and restaurants took it off the menu under pressure from consumers.

"The biggest change happens when the market gets behind and here we have important progress," Hart said.

The diplomat threw his support behind the I'm Finished with Fins campaign organised by conservation group Shark Savers. He will feature in a series of campaign advertisements, joining a roster of high-profile spokespeople for the campaign, including Canto-pop stars Kay Tse On-kei and Anthony Wong Yiu-Ming, and film star Jackie Chan.

Campaign leader Pandie Ho said the group's next goal was to recruit a Hong Kong government official to the campaign.

But Hart was less forthcoming on other issues, deflecting questions on electoral reform and Beijing's controversial white paper, outlining its "comprehensive jurisdiction" over the city.