Singapore must be more transparent in shark fin trade: Report

Singapore was ranked the world’s second-largest shark fin trader by value after Hong Kong, according to trade figures from 2012-2013, say conservationist groups Traffic and WWF.
Channel NewsAsia 26 May 17;

SINGAPORE: Conservationist groups called on the Singapore Government to improve transparency and conduct "more robust monitoring" to tackle the global shark fin trade, after the country was found to be one of the world's largest shark fin trader by value.

According to the latest report released by wildlife-trade monitor Traffic and conservation group WWF on Friday (May 26), Singapore was ranked the world’s second-largest shark fin trader by value after Hong Kong, according to trade figures in 2012-2013.

The recorded export and import values of shark fin in Singapore was S$50.4 million and S$65 million, respectively, during that period, second only to Hong Kong's S$57.2 million for export and S$215.4 million for import trade, the report said.

Traffic and WWF added that in-depth analysis into the shark fin trade was hampered by a lack of detail in Singapore Custom's import and export data. They recommended that Singapore Customs begin recording shark data using detailed Harmonised System Codes (HS Codes), developed by the World Customs Organisation for the classification of goods.

The system allows for better distinction between dried and frozen shark products, which is critical for accurately determining actual trade volumes and provide further insight into the species in trade, WWF and Traffic said.

Accurate, openly available information would also enable individuals and businesses to make responsible choices about which products they ​consume, they added.

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

According to a survey by WWF released in February 2016, three out of four consumers in Singapore think the government is not doing enough to protect sharks and would support legislation against shark fin consumption.

Commenting on the latest report, Ms Elaine Tan, CEO of WWF-Singapore, said: “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."

"The fact that Singapore is a significant trader means that the solution to the global shark crisis lies right here on our shores. More robust monitoring of volumes and protected species will set a positive precedent for other countries and contribute to healthier shark populations and oceans,” she added.

Singapore edging up as world’s second-largest shark’s fin trader
KENNETH CHENG Today Online 26 May 17;

SINGAPORE — Despite various moves here in recent years, such as hotels removing shark’s fin from their restaurant menus, for example, Singapore has moved up the ranks to become the world’s second-biggest trader of the product, a report has found.

Traffic, a wildlife-trade monitoring network, and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which published the report, noted that an in-depth analysis of the trade here was hampered by a lack of detail in the Singapore Customs’ import and export data.

They urged the government department to begin recording data on the trade using the internationally recognised harmonised system (HS) codes developed by the World Customs Organisation, and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) has told them that this was under way. The use of HS codes to classify goods, including shark commodities, was introduced in 1967, Singapore Customs told TODAY.

The report indicated that Singapore should “immediately scrutinise” its practices including its HS codes, which do not distinguish the different types of shark products or provide for all protected species.

The analysis of Singapore’s role in the shark and ray trade found that, on the export front, the country placed second after Hong Kong, with trade valued at US$40 million (S$55 million) between 2012 and 2013.

This was 11.1 per cent lower than Hong Kong’s US$45 million. Singapore is also the second-largest importer of shark’s fin after Hong Kong. Imports over the same period were valued at US$51.4 million, compared with Hong Kong’s US$170 million. As a re-exporter of the product, Singapore is placed second as well, averaging 2,422 tonnes yearly between 2012 and 2013 — which is one-tenth of the world’s total exports. It re-exported the commodity to countries such as Hong Kong, China and Japan.

A Traffic report in 2013 showed that Singapore was one of the world’s top four exporters and the third-largest importer of shark’s fin between 2000 and 2009.

In recent years, businesses from hotels to airlines have taken steps to stem the trade. In 2014, Singapore Airlines Cargo stopped carrying shark’s fin on its flights. That year, hotel giants, including Hilton, also said no to dishing out the ingredient at the properties they own and manage.

In their report, Traffic and the WWF said that more detailed codes would allow shark products to be distinguished between “dried” and “frozen”, which is crucial to determining trade volumes accurately.

The two groups have started discussions with the AVA to put in place product commodity codes for all

30 species of sharks and rays that are subject to international trade restrictions under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Such information would also allow individuals and firms to make “responsible” choices on the products they consume or use, they added.

The impact of hunting sharks for their fins has been the subject of much debate. More than 70 million sharks are killed yearly across the globe, and many species are caught at “unsustainable levels”, Traffic and the WWF said.

Singapore emerges as second largest trader of shark fin in the world
NICHOLAS CHEW AsiaOne 29 May 17;

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.

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.



Calls for better traceability after report identifies Singapore as world’s second largest shark fin trader
TRAFFIC 26 May 17;

Singapore is the world’s second largest shark fin trader by value after Hong Kong according to a new report by TRAFFIC and WWF, who are calling on Singapore to improve transparency in the global shark fin trade through more robust monitoring.

The recorded value of the export trade was US$40million (S$50.4 million) for 2012–2013, a close second after Hong Kong’s US$45 million (S$57.2 million), while the corresponding figures for import values were US$170 million (S$215.4 million) for Hong Kong, with Singapore well behind but still second on US$51.4 million (S$65 million).

Analysis of Singapore-specific trade data showed that the country imported 14,114 tonnes of shark fin over a six year period from 2005–2014*. According to the report, The Shark and Ray Trade in Singapore (PDF, 3 MB), the country was also the world’s second largest re-exporter of shark fin after Thailand, accounting for 10% of the world’s total exports from 2012–2013, averaging 2,422 tonnes per year.

“Any country that dominates a particular trade has an extra responsibility to ensure it is transparent and traceable,” said 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.”

In-depth analysis was hampered by a lack of detail in Singapore Customs’ import and export data, and the report recommends a number of changes in the way information is gathered. For example, Singapore Customs should begin recording shark data using detailed Harmonized System Codes (HS Codes), developed by the World Customs Organization for the classification of goods. TRAFFIC and WWF have been informed by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) that this is underway.

More detailed information will allow for distinction between dried and frozen shark products, which is critical for accurately determining actual trade volumes, and provide further insight into the species in trade—clearly vital information. Accurate, openly available information would also enable individuals and businesses to make responsible choices about which products they consume.

Sharks and rays found for sale in Singapore. Singapore's import / export figures of rays reveals that there is high domestic demand.
“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. The fact that Singapore is a significant trader means that the solution to the global shark crisis lies right here on our shores. More robust monitoring of volumes and protected species will set a positive precedent for other countries and contribute to healthier shark populations and oceans,” said Elaine Tan, Chief Executive Officer of WWF-Singapore.

TRAFFIC and WWF have embarked on discussions with the AVA based on findings of the report, targeting the full implementation of product commodity codes for all 30 species of sharks and rays subject to international trade restrictions under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

More than 70 million sharks are killed every year around the world, with many species caught at unsustainable levels. According to the IUCN Shark Specialist Group, nearly 25% of sharks and rays now face extinction, with overfishing for fins and meat the major drivers. Slow growth, late maturing and the production of few young further leave them vulnerable to overfishing and slow to recover from depletion.

About the report
The Shark and Ray Trade in Singapore is the first detailed analysis of the country’s role in the shark and ray trade, and provides a full picture of Singapore’s role in the shark fin and ray trade from source to market. It was conducted as part of the global WWF and TRAFFIC Shark & Ray Initiative.

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