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Brunei Institutes Asia’s First Nationwide Shark Fin Ban

WildAid urges others in the region to follow as traders report declining demand


WildAid, the conservation nonprofit that focuses on reducing the demand for endangered wildlife products, is commending Brunei today after the country adopted a nationwide shark fin ban, the first of its kind in Asia. According to today's announcement, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah made the decree that officially bans the catch and landing of all shark species from the waters of Brunei Darussalam and their sales in the domestic market as well as a ban on the importation and trade of shark products.

“Asia contains the largest markets for shark fin and today one of those markets closed its doors, reducing the pressure on depleted shark populations,” said Jonn Lu, WildAid and Shark Savers shark campaigner. “Brunei has just set the stage for regional change. Now the questions is ‘Who will be next?’”

WildAid hopes the next country to institute a national sales ban will be China, the world’s largest consumer of shark fin soup, a dish that was estimated to use fins from 28-73 million sharks annually until recently.

The nonprofit launched a national multi-media campaign there in 2006, spearheaded by Chinese icon Yao Ming (english version), which has met with tremendous popular support and in 2012 the Chinese government announced a ban on serving shark fin at state banquets.

“In early 2013, we conducted undercover interviews with shark fin traders to determine the success of our campaign. The traders told us that sales have fallen by 50-60%,” said Peter Knights, executive director of WildAid. “This was reported in mainland China and Hong Kong; in line with media reports stating that shipments through Hong Kong, a major hub for the shark fin trade, were declining.”

According to the South China Morning Post: “…the Census and Statistics Department of Hong Kong reported that shark fin imports have reduced from 10,292 tons to 3,087 tons from 2011 to November 2012; over a 70% decline.” Additionally, the chairman of the Hong Kong-based Shark Fin Trade Merchants Association told the South China Morning Post “the whole industry has recorded a 50% decrease of sales in the last year…mainly due to the omnipresent advocacy by green groups.”