Singapore emerges as second largest trader of shark fin in the world

Singapore emerges as second largest trader of shark fin in the world
PHOTO: AFP

Many Singaporeans may no longer be consuming shark's fin soup nowadays, but large amounts of this expensive and rare product is still making its way through our borders.

In a report released by wildlife trade monitoring group, TRAFFIC, it has been revealed that Singapore is now the second largest trader of shark fin.

Hong Kong tops the list in terms of revenue, according to findings done in 2012-2013.

The same report also noted that an in-depth, accurate analysis has not been available due to the lack of transparency in Singapore's trade information regarding shark fin.

The statistics

According to the report published together by TRAFFIC as well as the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Singapore's trade valued at $50.4 million and $65 million for exports and imports of shark fin respectively.

It was also found that some of the species traded include the porbeagle (Lamna nasus), the oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus), the basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus), the scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini), and the great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran). 

These five species of sharks have all been classified under threatened categories on the IUCN Red List.

The hunting and selling of shark fin has long been a highly controversial topic, with more than 70 million sharks killed worlwide yearly according to TRAFFIC and WWF. 

The fact that Singapore is a significant trader means that the solution to the global shark crisis lies right here on our shores. 

Elaine Tan, CEO of WWF-Singapore

Lack of transparency

In response to the lack of transparency, the report has urged the Singapore government to implement Harmonised System Codes (HS Codes), which aids in distinguishing different species of sharks, allowing Singapore Customs to monitor the trading of endengered species.

"Any country that dominates a particular trade has an extra responsibility to ensure it is transparent and traceable," said Ms Kanitha Krishnasamy, senior programme manager for Traffic in Southeast Asia.

"Key to any effort aimed at enabling legal and sustainable sourcing, and long-term viability of shark populations, is the open availability of product-specific trade data."

Ms Elaine Tan, the CEO of WWF-Singapore said: "The fact that Singapore is a significant trader means that the solution to the global shark crisis lies right here on our shores."

One good thing here is "support to reduce the consumption of shark fin has grown as more people and businesses now believe in keeping sharks off our plates and in the oceans," pointed out Ms Tan. 

nicchew@sph.com.sg

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