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January 12, 2011 / Diego Laje

Bull-shark! Officials can’t live without shark-fin

Hong Kong officials defend their iron-bowl of shark-fin soup. Here’s a suggestion: they should add whale sushi to their official banquet menus.

We’ve been documenting Hong Kong’s status as the world hub for shark-fin trade for some time, in reports like this one. My voice has been quite not-so-loud as many other’s who have done a much better job at telling this story.

The situation with shark populations and Hong Kong’s role is so serious, a World Wildlife Fund initiative to limit shark-fin soup in corporate functions has received a great deal of attention from major companies here. For a full list of these companies, click here.

A sidewalk of dead sharks in downtown Hong Kong

A sidewalk of dead sharks in downtown Hong Kong.

A local activist/journalist, Alex Hofford, caught an image as powerful as this one, that went all over the local media.

Only minutes ago, a press release was issued by the Hong Kong government, with comments by the Secretary for the Environment, Edward Yau. The full release is here.

His remarks are poor, at best, and his most outrageous comment is: “We do not think it is appropriate to lay down guidelines to regulate the kind of food to be consumed in official banquets and meals.”

Around eighty major institutions in this territory thought it was appropriate to lay down guidelines to regulate the consumption of shark-fin in their banquets and meals, according to the WWF -in the list linked above.

Is the Hong Kong government, and especially its Secretary for the Environment, not willing to cut back on a few bowls of soup to save a species we know is declining fast? Despite the fact that it is -as Yau points out, perfectly legal to consume it.

Will the Hong Kong government start supporting the Japanese in their “experimental” whale hunts? It’s perfectly legal to kill them for experiments.

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