Invite Schools to Join “Sharks We Care”- No Shark Fin for School Events
The amount of sharks is greatly reduced because of dining and over catching. Various kinds of ecological problems are as a result generated. Last Tuesday (27 Apr), the state ofHawaiiin theUnited Statespassed an Act to stop the sale and storage of shark fins. However, countries and cities having a key share of the trade of shark fins, includingHong Kong, still turn a blind eye on the need of the conservation of sharks and neglect the problem of over catching.
We, Green Sense, urge the government immediately restrict and reduce the import, sale and storage of shark fins as the amount of sharks are not yet proven to be stable, and principles of humanity and sustainability are not yet included in the means of catching. Actions including imposing penalty tax on importers of shark fin and promoting public education should be taken. For the long run, having a legislative ban on the sale of shark fin or any other products made of sharks would better preserve the ecology.
It is because the government takes no action that citizens, as consumers, have to take actions ourselves – stop eating shark fins and safeguard our environment! We, Green Sense, invite all kindergartens, primary schools and secondary schools inHong Kongto join “Sharks We Care” campaign, promising no shark fins for all school events and parties. We would later announce the list of schools joining “Sharks We Care” campaign. Those “caring” schools would receive certificates and they could publish the logo signifying “caring school” on their websites, invitation letter for parties and their journals.
Nowadays, many parties are organized by schools every year, for example, parties for alumni, parents-teachers association, 5-year anniversaries and thankyou parties for teachers. Therefore, schools joining “Sharks We Care” would significantly help reduce the consumption of shark fins. We urge schools teach students preserving the nature by their own conduct – stop killing sharks themselves. More importantly, we hope that the education sector would as a result lead a new trend in the society. More and more people would be encouraged and we would together arouse a massive scale campaign for protecting sharks. The target of the “Sharks We Care” campaign is to have more than 200 school participants.
Mr. Wong Ka-wo, Chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants & Related Trades (HKFORT), (also Chairman of Kampery Development Limited) is willing to answer questions of reporters through phone after the press conference.
Commonly Asked Questions about Shark Fin
We, Green Sense, urge the government immediately restrict and reduce the import, sale and storage of shark fins as the amount of sharks are not yet proven to be stable, and principles of humanity and sustainability are not yet included in the means of catching. Actions could be taken include imposing penalty tax on importers of shark fin and have public education. For the long run, having a legislative ban on shark fin or any other products made of sharks would better preserve the ecology.
1. Why shouldn’t we eat shark fins?
Destruction of marine ecosystem: Because of the high demand of shark fin all over the world, particularly the demand for Chinese cuisine, huge amount of sharks of various species have been killed. As a result, many shark species are endangered. Also, sharks are among the top of the food web. Once their amount decreases significantly, the amount of smaller fish in the middle of the food web will be out of control and there would be excessive predation for the organisms at the bottom of the food web, for example, calms. The relationship between massive killing of sharks and the decreasing amount of calms is supported by researches. Therefore, killing sharks for luxurious consumption in fact does harm on fishery industries in general.
Another reason is that as sharks are on the highest level of the food web, having a long life and hence consuming a huge amount of fish, they will obtain many heavy metals from the fish and accumulate in their bodies. One of the heavy metal, for example, mercury, causes damage to tour central nervous system and decreases the number of sperms when consumed.
2. How many sharks are consumed every year?
About 100,000,000 sharks are caught every year. About 73,000,000 are caught for supplying shark fins. Last year,Hong Kongalone consumed 9,396 tons of shark fins.
3. Wouldn’t it adversely affect the fishery industries if we stop eating shark fins?
In fact, over catching has already adversely affected the industries because of the reduction of other species, for example, calms. The profits made from the sale of sharks are in fact generated by causing harm on others. Therefore, reducing eating shark fin actually helps the fishery industries.
On the other hand, conserving sharks help boost the tourism industries as well. Countries includingAustralia,Maldivesand Philippine are benefited by whales or sharks watching tours.
4. What are the attitudes of Hong Kong people towards shark fin?
Although shark fin soup is a traditional Chinese cuisine, more and more people and organizations have recently become aware of the importance of conserving sharks.
Citizens: In March 2010, netizens advocated a group named “Wedding Party with Shark Fin- Monetary Gifts 30% Off” in Facebook. The number of member joining has exceeded 10,000.
Organizations: 55 organizations have promised not to buy and sell shark fins in the events of their companies. TheUniversity ofHong Kong has also restricted its catering services partners not to provide shark fins in the University. Parties organized by the University are not allowed to have shark fins as dishes. Restaurants inDisneyLand exclude shark fins as an available dish for parties.
The Government: Its latest view towards dining shark fin was raised in 2005. The Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau, Miss Sarah Liao (as she then was) replied a question from members of the Legislation Council, claiming that sharks which were not protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora could be legally dined. She claimed that because those sharks were not protected by the international convention, local legislation would not regulate the consumption of shark fins for citizens or governmental events and there would not be any plan for promoting the conservation of those sharks. We sincerely urge the government to review and set up their relevant guidelines. http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/200512/14/P200512140157_print.htm
5. Apart from stopping having shark fins, what would schools do?
Schools could include related teaching in lessons, for example, having news clips about the conservation of sharks and marine ecology in foreign countries in English for reading comprehension, having discussion about the effect of over catching of marine organisms on the balanced relationship in ecology during liberal studies classes.
6. Are there any substitutes for shark fins?
It is not preferable to pick wild animals as substitutes. If animals are caught or feed for food for human, the way of keeping or catching them should be sustainable. It is not desirable to have another animals suffer when conserving the sharks. Best substitutes include vegetarian shark fin soup and shark fin pumpkins.
World Wild Fund –Hong Kong, the list of organizations promising stop to eat shark fin:
“Eating shark fins is not healthy and possibly poisonous”:
“Must the ocean bleeding to death?- over catching of sharks”
Description of mercury by World Health Organization:
Ransom A. Myers, et al., Cascading Effects of the Loss of Apex Predatory Sharks from a Coastal Ocean; Science 315, p 1846-50, March 2007.