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Hong Kong environmental issues

Shark fin: Cathay Pacific among major Hong Kong firms uniting in pledge to end global trade

  • Four Seasons Hotel, Shangri-La Group, Conrad Hong Kong and Star Ferry Company some of the big names promising to put pressure on other businesses
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 November, 2018, 8:04am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 November, 2018, 11:11am

Major corporations across five industries in Hong Kong on Friday signed a pledge to put an end to the global trade in shark fin.

Airline Cathay Pacific was joined by businesses ranging from hotels to advertisers in committing to the Global Shark Pledge, an initiative by wildlife protection organisation WildAid.

Hong Kong is a major hub for the trade. As much as 50 per cent of global supply passes through the city, much of it on its way to mainland China.

WildAid says the industry relies on the killing of up to 73 million sharks every year.

Other big names signing the pledge included the Four Seasons Hotel, Shangri-La Group, Conrad Hong Kong, and The Star Ferry Company.

The firms all promised not to use or transport shark fin and to put pressure on other businesses to follow suit.

Activism has helped slash demand for shark fin in China, the world’s biggest consumer, by more than half since 2011, WildAid said. Many large restaurant chains have stopped serving it or have replaced the ingredient with substitutes at traditional Chinese banquets.

“We’ve been running an advertising campaign for a decade now to encourage people in Hong Kong not to buy it. But then we moved on to the airlines and container shipping companies,” said Alex Hofford, a WildAid campaigner.

Shark fin will be gone from menus by 2020, Hong Kong’s largest restaurant chain Maxim’s says

The result has been 45 airlines – including Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay – refusing to transport shark fin as cargo.

Conservation group WWF says Hong Kong shark fin imports dropped by half between 2007 and 2017.

“A critical mass has formed,” Hofford said. “We’ve lobbied the business sector – now it’s time for them to carry our message forward.”

Claudio Rossi, executive chef at Conrad Hong Kong, said shark fin was completely unnecessary as a culinary ingredient.

“There are many alternatives, and in the past 10 years I’ve seen a lot of improvement. Many five-star hotels have stopped using shark fin. With this inspiration and drive, the smaller restaurants can follow our lead,” he said.

Andy Chan, senior director of food and beverage for the Shangri-La Group, said: “We have an obligation as a company to help customers make sustainable food choices. We stopped serving shark fin because it was the right thing to do.”

Where battle to curb shark fin consumption is being won and lost, and why trade has to stop – new research

Last month fast-food chain Maxim’s, Hong Kong’s largest restaurant business, said it would remove all shark fin products from menus by 2020.

Hofford said WildAid now had its sights on other major chains such as Fulum, which is listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

“The Maxim’s decision really sent shock waves up the shark fin supply chain, so we’re calling on Fulum to sign our pledge because they’re the second biggest restaurant group,” he said. “It would be great if they were the second domino to fall.”