Sustainable live seafood continues to evade Hong Kong restaurants

Published on
June 26, 2015

Hong Kong diners are only half way there when it comes to eating sustainable seafood. According to a new survey from conservation organization WWF, over half of all live seafood served up for consumers in the bustling Chinese metropolis is facing threat of extinction.

The survey, which consulted the likes of 57 restaurants from April to June, did note that sustainable seafood supply in Hong Kong was on the rise. However, the ratio of unsustainable product remains uncomfortably elevated; approximately 52 percent of seafood varieties in the area fall under the “Red-Avoid” category, WWF discovered. Meanwhile, just 38 percent of the seafood supply in the Hong Kong restaurant realm is classified as “Green-Recommended” and only 10 percent are considered of the “Yellow-Deeply consider before eating” variety.

In light of the survey findings, WWF-Hong Kong is strongly urging consumers to make a conscious effort to choose sustainable.

“Globally, many fisheries are in decline and Hong Kong has an important role to play in this matter," Adam Koo Tze-cheung, CEO of WWF-Hong Kong, told the South China Morning Post. "[We can] change our dining habits and choose sustainable seafood products."

This may be easier said than done, though, as Mark Kwok Chi-yat, a fish seller to hotels like Shangri-La and Hyatt, told the Post. Many HongKongers will ask for the best looking fish, Kwok said, without considering that such fish may or may not be the most sustainably managed. They don’t seem to be aware of the levels of growth hormones and antibiotics that could be present in the seafood they consume.

"I don't think they're paying attention. They assume that the Hong Kong government is checking on these things," Kwok said.

"The world's population is about seven billion, the demand for food is insatiable and certainly in this part of the world the demand for fish can never be satisfied. Without more people using sustainable practices, nature just won't be able to deliver," he added.

Of course, the fact that not a lot of Hong Kong consumers know where to find sustainable seafood also contributes to the problem at hand. According to the survey, 60 percent of the respondents do not know where to find sustainable seafood products.

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