180 Schools Pledge “No Shark Fin” Banquet Query Sent to All Government Departments, 14 Replied, One did have Shark Fin

Green Sense has launched the “Sharks We Care” campaign in May, to call for all primary schools, secondary schools and kindergartens to pledge not to consume any shark fin in an effort to protect sharks and marine ecology. Until last Friday (June 11), a total of 182 schools have signed up to join the campaign, vowing that no shark fin will be served in school banquets hereafter. They include 66 secondary schools, 58 primary schools and 57 kindergartens or child care centers, distributed throughout the territory. Please see the attached map for the geographical distribution, or visit our program website http://gswildlife.blogspot.com/. We continue to call for all schools to participate in “Sharks we care” campaign, joining hands to promote nature conservation.

On the other hand, Green Sense sent request letter to all 56 government departments, asking whether shark fin is consumed, as well as whether guideline for its consumption is in place. Only 14 departments replied (see attached table). Most departments have indicated that shark fin has not been served within the past year in internal or official banquet, with the exception of Architectural Services Department. As to whether there is a guideline, only the Hong Kong Observatory has issued an internal memo in February 2008 ruling that “shark fin dishes are not allowed in all banquets using public funding”. In addition Planning Department replied they “would set departmental guideline.” Other departments, said they “do not need”, “have no plans” or “think it is inappropriate” to devise such guideline.

Later, the Environmental Protection Department sent us a reply on behalf of the rest of the departments. It indicates that the government will only regulate the trading of three species of sharks under the “Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora” (CITES). But it did not respond whether or not shark fin has been served in its internal or official banquet; nor did it respond whether guideline on shark fin’s consumption was issued internally or government-wide. Green Sense also sent the same query to the Chief Executive’s Office last week. The Office only quoted the same response from EPD. All in all, the government has very vague attitude towards the issue of shark fin consumption and the response varies from one department to another.

Currently, the over-exploitation of sharks is serious. This April, the U.S. Hawaii State Government has passed the legislation banning the sale and possession of shark fins. Green Sense believes that the Hong Kong SAR Government should take the initiative to include all the shark species under regulation and develop guidelines banning the consumption of shark fin among government departments, instead of merely complying with CITES and make excuse that many shark species are not yet included in the international conventions. It should also save sharks and marine ecosystems with real action, encouraging people not to eat any shark fins and shark products, so as to respond
to the call of conservation of sharks and marine ecology locally and internationally.