Following is a question by the Hon. Emily Lau and a written reply by the Acting Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council meeting today (July 3):
It has been reported that Hong Kong is the major market for the world's shark's fin trade, and 50 per cent to 70 per cent of the trade is estimated to take place here. There are accusations that the trade is pushing some shark species into extinction. In this connection, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council whether :
(a) they are aware of the severity of the problem; and
(b) they have plans to tackle it; if so, of the details of such plans?
(a) According to information available to us, there is no comprehensive scientific data to ascertain the impact of shark's fin trade-related hunting activities on the number of sharks of different species or their life process. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.
(b)To protect endangered species of wild animals and plants, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government strictly abides by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (the Convention) through enacting and enforcing the Animals and Plants (Protection of Endangered Species) Ordinance (the Ordinance). The Convention was drawn up by the international community to protect wildlife against over-exploitation because of trade. It provides that import and export of species listed in its appendices shall be controlled by licences. The details of the Appendices are as follows:
Species that are highly endangered and threatened with extinction - international trade in these species is allowed only in certain specified circumstances with valid export (or re-export) and import licences.
Species that could be threatened with extinction unless their trading is controlled - trade in these species requires a valid export (or re-export) licence.
Species identified by any party to the Convention as requiring protection from over-exploitation caused by international trade - export of these species from the signing party concerned requires a valid export (or re-export) licence.
Among various shark species, only the trade in Basking Sharks and Great White Sharks is regulated under the Convention. These two species are listed in Appendix III to the Convention.
According to the Ordinance, the import, export or possession of endangered species of animals and plants and their related products requires a licence that must be obtained in advance from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. Basking Sharks have already been included in the existing control regime. We will later amend the Ordinance to include Great White Sharks as well. If the control of trade under the Convention is extended to cover other shark species in future, we will revise the Ordinance accordingly.
End/Wednesday, July 3, 2002