West targets fin consumers unfairly; Shark’s fin here safe to eat: AVA (The Straits Times Forum, Friday 22 June 2012)

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West targets fin consumers unfairly

THE June 12 article (“Scientists protest against trade in shark fin “) described a recent petition. The petition was also presented earlier to legislators in Hong Kong and once again criticises the Chinese for eating shark’s fin, claiming also that the shark’s fin trade is unsustainable.

Signed by 41 international marine scientists, the petition is neither new nor native to Hong Kong despite its link to Hong Kong University and two Hong Kong non –governmental organisations.

The petition originated in the United States and went online in March this year.

It was distributed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) which is linked to the Pew Institute, the major organisation targeting the Chinese over shark’s fin; but saying little about global shark fisheries being driven by the demand for shark meat in the West.

The claim in the petition that IUCN determinations should take precedence over those of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), which has access to tens of thousands of marine fishery experts throughout .the world, is questionable.

The campaigns launched against eating shark’s fin in Asia emanate mainly from the United States.

One must ask how long it will be before all traditional Chinese foods are advertised as containing different and elevated mixes of minerals and chemicals relative to the sterile fast foods marketed so successfully around the world.

(Surely, Chinese banquets in a fast-food outlet would be healthier?)

The fact remains that most sharks are harvested for their meat, eaten with all its “mercury” as Dr Yik Keng Yeong decried in criticising the eating of shark’s fin (“Shark’s fin delight: The end doesn’t justify the means”; June 7), by children throughout the Western world.

Most sharks are landed whole and are not finned at sea because the meat is valuable.

Overfishing of fish, including sharks, is a problem that must be solved by improved fisheries management, not by castigating the Chinese for preferring to eat a minute portion of the shark amounting to 5 per cent of its body weight, while all others, including consumers in the United States, with the world ‘s fifth largest shark fishing fleet, eat 95 per cent of the shark without criticism.

Charlie Um
Conservation and Management
Marine Products Association
(Hong Kong)


Shark’s fin here safe to eat: AVA

I THANK Dr Yik Keng Yeong for his feedback (“Shark’s fin:Different findings on mercury” in Forum Online; June 14). The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) regulates the import of food products into Singapore to ensure their safety.

All food products, including shark’s fin products from Hong Kong and Thailand, are required to comply with our safety standards and requirements.

Hong Kong and Thailand accounted for about 4 per cent of our total import last year.

As part of our routine surveillance programme, shark’s fin products are regularly monitored and sampled. Results from our surveillance over the years have shown that mercury was either not detected in the shark ‘s fin products  or was at levels well below the limits permitted.

Consignments that fail to meet AVA’s stringent requirements are not allowed for sale and will be destroyed.

AVA would like to reassure consumers that shark’s fin products available locally are safe for consumption.

Dr Paul Chiew
Director, Laboratories Department
For Chief Executive Officer
Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority

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2 Responses to West targets fin consumers unfairly; Shark’s fin here safe to eat: AVA (The Straits Times Forum, Friday 22 June 2012)

  1. Rob Lowden says:

    In Australia we have a number of well managed shark fisheries with all meat being used for human consumption. The fin is a byproduct that is sold to Asia. Hardworking Australian fisherman are tired of being dictated to by groups that believe in preservation of all marine creatures rather than the sustainable use of marine resources.

    • Joyce says:

      Hi Rob! We are researching on this topic. However, we can only get limited data from here in Singapore about shark fisheries in Australia. Would it be possible for you to refer organizations/groups that are involved with this? Thank you 🙂

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