Guinea leads in hidden shark fin shipments to Hong Kong

Guinea tops the list in shipping shark fins to Hong Kong. — AFP pic
Guinea tops the list in shipping shark fins to Hong Kong. — AFP pic

HONG KONG, Nov 19 ― Guinea led the world in shipping unreported catches of shark fins to Hong Kong, where the fish parts are sold for as much as US$700 (RM2,224) a kilogramme , according to a report by conservation group, Oceana.

Hong Kong imported 49.7 metric tonnes of dried and frozen fins. which are used in shark fin soup, last year from the west African country, the report showed, citing revenue data from the Chinese territory. Mauritania with 28.4 tonnes and the Philippines with 24.5 tonnes were the second- and third-biggest shippers of unreported shark fins. Hong Kong accounts for half of world demand for shark fins, according to Washington-based Pew Charitable Trusts.

Countries that participate in the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas are supposed to report catching sharks to the organisation, Angela Pauly, a Brussels-based spokeswoman for Oceana, said in an e-mailed response to questions. The commission is meeting in Cape Town this week to consider the first ever catch quotas for sharks, starting with the shortfin mako, the world’s fastest shark, as the killing of 100 million of the animals each year threatens the survival of some species.

The commission, which has 46 member countries as well as the European Union, is also discussing conservation measures for tuna and tuna-like species of fish in the Atlantic.

Under new rules, “if a country hasn’t submitted data on its catch of a species, it can’t catch and retain that species the following year,” Dave Bard, a spokesman for the environmental unit of Pew, a non-profit organisation. “This has been put into place largely due to poor reporting of shark catch by ICCAT parties, who often export shark fins but don’t submit the relevant data on that catch to the Commission.”

Shark fins range from thumb size to several feet, with that average probably less than a foot high and half that across.

The biggest legally reported exporters of sharkfins to Hong Kong in 2011 were Spain and and Singapore, according to Pew. ― Bloomberg