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 $40 million for 2012–2013, a close second after Hong Kong’s $45 million, while the corresponding figures for import values were $170 million for Hong Kong and $51.4 million for Singapore.
According to the report, The Shark and Ray Trade in Singapore, the country was the world’s second largest re-exporter of shark fin after Thailand, accounting for 10 percent of the world’s total exports from 2012–2013. Singapore does not have a domestic shark fishery and domestic export of locally processed shark fins makes up only 2.6 percent of the total export. The top three nations Singapore imported shark fins from were Spain, Uruguay and Namibia. The top three export destinations from Singapore were Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan.
Shark fins have been a traditional element of Chinese haute cuisine with a reputation for being expensive and a status symbol. The lucrative trade in fins (not only from sharks, but also of shark-like rays such as wedgefish and sawfish) has been estimated to be worth $400–550 million annually.
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 percent 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.
The report is available here.