Hong Kong Shark Foundation is a small organisation which was founded in 2008 devoted to shark conservation. In particular the organisation focuses on campaigning against shark finning, a wasteful and unethical practice where the fins of sharks are obtained for consumption, and more often than not the carcasses are disposed of.
Shark finning is prevalent in the Southeast Asian region due to the demand for shark fin soup, a delicacy and sign of affluence in Chinese cultures. It is typically served at special occasions such as wedding banquets though it is not uncommon for the dish to be available on menus in restaurants.
Hong Kong plays major role in the shark fin market not only as a chief consumer of these products but also as it is a key trading hub in South-East Asia. As Hong Kong is renowned for its affluent lifestyle, it is no wonder that shark fin is readily accessible to consumers.
The inevitability of this wasteful process is the impact that shark decline has on the ecosystem. As a result of finning, sharks lose their ability to swim and thus carry out basic needs such as feeding and mating, ultimately resulting in death. Naturally, this has detrimental effects on population numbers and the ecosystem. Sharks are apex predators essential to the functioning of marine food chains and life as a whole. What’s more, the corollary of being an apex predator means that sharks reproduce in low numbers, further contributing to the population decline. With approximately 100 million sharks killed each year, this means that some species may be threatened with extinction.
HKSF aims and achievements
Hong Kong Shark Foundation aims to raise awareness about the detrimental effects that shark finning has on marine ecosystems. In particular, their efforts are centred around the local Hong Kong population who actively purchase and consume shark fin products.
At the consumer level, HKSF has launched a campaign for Shark-Free weddings and they have run press conferences and educational workshops informing individuals about the cause. They also stage protests and circulate petitions to raise awareness.
There is also a large emphasis on lobbying restaurants and retailers which sell shark fin products to the public. HKSF has actively campaigned against major airlines and carriers which ship shark fins into Hong Kong, and to date Cathay Pacific Airlines and Hong Kong Express have ceased shipping these products. They have also put pressure on legislators to ban the sale of shark fins in Hong Kong.
How can you help?
If you are a consumer, the first thing to do would be to say no to the consumption, purchase and advocacy of shark finning procedures. You can also create a forum surrounding the cause in order to raise awareness about shark finning. This directly benefits organisations such as HKSF who rely heavily on their supporters to achieve long-term results. You can also donate and purchase gifts at the HKSF website which helps support the work that the organisation does such as outreach and management.