Thu, Jul 11, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Shark fin haul into Hong Kong dodges shipping bans

Reuters, HONG KONG

Two global shipping firms that have vowed not to transport shark fin products inadvertently moved a 40-foot container of the controversial delicacy from Nicaragua to Hong Kong this year, both companies said.

The shipment highlights the challenges the global industry faces in monitoring the trade that results in the killing of more than 70 million sharks per year and has pushed more than one-quarter of species into extinction, according to the WWF.

The fins were first loaded onto a vessel called Laura, which is operated by Ocean Network Express (ONE), in Nicaragua in March and then transhipped in Manzanillo, Mexico, onto Mediterranean Shipping Co’s (MSC) vessel Natasha to Hong Kong, cargo records showed.

The shipment arrived in Hong Kong in April and was first flagged to Reuters by conservation group OceansAsia, which saw bags of shark fin being unloaded on a road in the territory’s industrial western district.

Representatives of ONE and MSC said that the shipment took place, but said the contents had not been declared as shark fin.

There was no evidence the shipment broke any local or international laws around shark fin transportation, but it did breach both companies’ own policies.

ONE and MSC are among many companies that banned the carrying of shark fins in widely publicized campaigns.

A Singapore-based representative for ONE said the cargo was declared as fish products and the company was not aware it was shark fins.

An MSC spokesman said the company understood that the cargo had been “misdeclared.”

While the sale and consumption of shark fin is legal in Hong Kong and accounts for about half of global trade, products from endangered sharks listed by the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species are protected and must be accompanied by a permit.

The Hong Kong Government has moved to stop illegal trading of sharks fin, but false labeling by traders is rampant, allowing shipments to dodge port checks.

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