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Hong Kong Shipment Increase Due To Tuna, Not Shark Fins Hong Kong, May 21, 13

One of Fiji’s main fishing companies has rejected claims by conservationists that Fiji is becoming a hub for shark finning in the Pacific region.
The Hong Kong Shark Association expressed concerns that Air Pacific has been flying a substantial quantity of shark fin into Hong Kong.

Radio Australia approached Air Pacific for comment on this story again, but nobody was available to speak to them.

But as Timothy Pope reports, Fiji’s major seafood companies say the reports are exaggerated.

Presenter: Timothy Pope

Speaker: Fiji Fish Marketing CEO Russell Dunham
Pope: Hong Kong’s government recently announced a huge increase in the amount of air freight coming in from Fiji, saying it allowed residents to enjoy a wide range of fishery products. To the Hong Kong Shark Association, fishery products meant shark fin.

The groups spoke to pilots who confirmed shark fin was coming in on Air Pacific flights, but the Fiji Fishy Industry, says the reports have been exaggerated.

Russell Dunham, CEO of Fiji Fish Marketing, says the vast majority of seafood isn’t shark at all.
Dunham: The volume I would suggest or the increase in volume is probably mostly attained or attributed to the increase of actual fish that I air freight to Hong Kong or that some of the other companies also air freight to Hong Kong, that’s becoming quite an important market. A lot of the air freighted volume, is actually tuna, tuna loins or Yellow Fin loins for market.But you’ll appreciate that especially for conservation groups and from an animal welfare point of view, shark finning is a reasonable hot button issue?
It is, and that’s precisely why Fiji is probably one of the first nations in the Pacific that has actually embarked on a sort of a national plan of actions for sharks and this is a management plan to make sure there is sustainable levels of interaction with sharks and I think Fiji is to be applauded for its efforts in this regard. And there were national plan of action has been in consultation with from government with fishing industry stakeholders, as well as the conservation groups, like WWF.

So are they trying to work towards a sale and possession ban on shark fin?
No, what we’re trying to do is look at the management of sharks and minimise interaction with sharks and look at mitigation measures when we’re fishing, like the damming of steel traces on any fishing gear, for example, is one and there’s several other management issues you can put in place to make sure you minimise interaction with sharks.
And, all the sharks that are caught in the region. Do fishermen tend to use all the shark or is the shark just finned and then thrown back?
Look, not that I’m aware of and look I’ve seen those videos-made movies and of those clips of that sort of action. To my knowledge, that doesn’t occur in the Pacific and I’ve seen a lot of the vessels that actually do unload if they do have sharks on board and it is a minimal amount. The big vessels, and the larger frozen vessels and they’ve got shark bodies as well as the fins attached to those shark bodies, as that’s the requirement now.
So that is actually a government regulation in Fiji, that you can’t just bring shark fins?
No, you cannot. You have to have bodies attached, to actually get it to be able to ship out, it’s got to be attached to bodies and that’s exactly what’s happening now.

Now whether they’re physically attached or they have been removed and attached by or tied up together, but you’ve got to have, for every pair of fins, you’ve got to have a body with it.

Bear in mind, the majority of the fishermen that are fishing here are targeting tuna. Noone is specifically targeting sharks. To my knowledge in the Pacific now, there is no country that licensed shark boats per say or shark licence. So you’re licensed to fish for tuna.
So there isn’t that demand from export countries like China and specifically Hong Kong, where there’s demand for shark fin, therefore, we will look for shark fin in the Pacific?
Look, the demand for shark fin has decreased so much over the last 18 months particularly and as such, prices have dropped as well, from what I understand from the product. So there is less and less demand for shark fin product.
So when Air Pacific says that the reports of shark fin being freighted on their plane is exaggerated. You’re assessment of that is?
I do not believe that the amount of volume of in terms of tonnage is attributed to shark fin or shark products. I believe the increase of volume of air freight between Nadi and Hong Kong, is the tuna fish, not shark.