Maxim's Caterers Limited Mr Ng,
Maxim’s is Hong Kong’s largest restaurant group, with over 70 outlets in the city still serving shark fin soup.
Despite evidence suggesting otherwise, Maxim’s claims it only serves soup made from blue sharks. According to scientists, however, blue shark populations have seen steep declines in recent years.
Perhaps reflecting Hong Kong’s role as a destructive hub for over half the world’s shark fin trade, Maxim’s is resisting calls to drop shark fin soup from its set menus.
This is despite recent and strong scientific evidence that blue shark populations are in deep trouble.
In the majority of cases, shark fin soup in Hong Kong is ordered on a set menu by a single person on behalf of a large group. This is usually for celebrating a special occasion like a wedding banquet, a birthday, a family reunion or a corporate event.
For Chinese cultural reasons, guests at shark fin set menu gatherings often feel powerless, believing they have no choice but to accept and eat the shark fin soup that has been placed by others in front of them in order not to offend their guest. But recent surveys suggest this often goes against their own better conscience, with many Hong Kong people personally disavowing shark fin.
Maxim’s has a firm responsibility to end this practice to save sharks and the marine environment by immediately removing shark fin from all its menus, especially its set menus.
Maxim’s has already shown great leadership in sustainable seafood sourcing, and came top in a June 2016 sustainable seafood survey of the Hong Kong restaurant trade conducted by WWF. Therefore, to stop selling shark fin should not be a step too far for Maxim’s.
Whilst the Hong Kong restaurant trade depends on the city’s irresponsible, unsustainable, cruel and unethical shark fin trade, the Hong Kong shark fin trade profits from illegal overfishing in oceans all around the globe.
And so just as Hong Kong consumers have a responsibility to stop eating shark fin, restaurants also have an equal responsibility to stop selling it too.
To save the world’s last remaining shark populations, the supply chain of shark fin to consumers must be severed.
As mentioned above, Maxim’s say they only serve shark fin soup made out of blue sharks (Scientific name: Prionace glauca).
However, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, blue sharks are listed as ‘Near Threatened’.
Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened
Year Published: 2009
Date Accessed: 2005‐10‐01
Annotations: Needs updating
The reality is that the scientific data on which the IUCN blue sharks stock assessment was based is hopelessly out of date. The last scientific assessment of how many blue sharks are left in the wild was conducted in 2005. That’s twelve years ago.
Since that time, marine scientists have unanimously concluded that blue sharks are in deep trouble. That’s because there is absolutely no evidence of sustainably managed blue shark fisheries at this time. It is likely that were a study to be conducted in 2017, blue sharks would be categorized as ‘Vulnerable’, ‘Endangered’ or ‘Critically Endangered’‐ even worse categories than the out of date ‘Near Threatened’.
The harsh reality is that the most recent publications referenced in the IUCN assessment are even older, dated 1999. That’s seventeen years ago.
The truth that Maxim’s is ignoring is that the following declines in blue shark populations – which were not referenced in the 2005 IUCN assessment – have been documented in much more recent peer‐reviewed publications:
> 50% decline in blue sharks in the North Pacific from 1996 to 2009 (5% per year)3• 80% decline in blue shark males in the North Atlantic from the mid 1980s to early 1990’s 
87% decline in blue sharks the Central Pacific from the 1950s to the 1990s (5‐6% decline per year) 
60% decline in blue sharks the Northwest Atlantic from 1986 to 2000 
Fishery scientists from the IUCN Shark Specialist Group estimate that only 4% of shark and ray fisheries are sustainably managed and none of these are blue shark fisheries. The only fisheries considered to be sustainably managed are mainly for some rays, chimaeras and small sharks that are not preferred for shark fin soup. 
Finning (dumping the bodies at sea) of blue sharks still happens, even in monitored fisheries. 
“In the Northwest Atlantic, blue sharks spend up to 92% of their time on the high seas, where they are largely unregulated and unmonitored. They are caught in large numbers by swordfish and tuna fishing fleets from a large number of nations, usually unintentionally, and are unproductive by fish standards, which makes them particularly sensitive to fishing pressure. Landing statistics that grossly underrepresent actual catches, unreported discards that often exceed landings, and high discard mortality rates are threats to the populations and roadblocks to useful population monitoring.
The influence of these threats is greatly magnified by inattention and ineffective management from the responsible management agency, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), whose prime focus is the more valuable swordfish and tuna stocks.” 
In Peru, which is one of the top 12 suppliers of blue shark fins to Hong Kong, 74.7% of blue sharks caught were deemed sexually immature and under the legal minimum landing size. 
Global shark chondrichthyan (shark, ray, skate and chimaera) landings peaked in 2003 and declined by almost 20% over the next decade. Authors found that landings declines were mainly attributed to ﬁshing pressure and that current fisheries management measures did not have the strength or coverage to halt overﬁshing and avert population declines. 
Evidently blue sharks are having a hard time, are in big trouble and the situation is getting worse. Is Maxim’s going to wait until there are no more blue sharks left before it admits that there is a problem?
Other favourites of Chinese cuisine, such as the hammerhead shark and oceanic whitetip had to wait until they reached the brink of extinction before they were afforded international legal protection under CITES. The same future faces blue sharks unless Maxim’s acts now.
These are the reasons why Maxim’s must stop serving shark fin immediately.
Lastly, the website of Dairy Farm, parent company of Maxim’s Catering Limited, states that, “Dairy Farm aims to meet the changing needs of Asian consumers by offering the leading brands, a compelling retail experience and great value, all provided through responsible operations supported by reliable and trusted supply chains.”
Regretfully, the continued sale by Maxim’s of dishes containing blue shark, whether found on Maxim’s á la carte menus, set menus or banquet menus, is an irresponsible business practice and is in direct contravention of Dairy Farm’s commitment to “responsible operations supported by reliable and trusted supply chains”.
The destructive Northwest Atlantic shark fisheries and the Hong Kong shark fin trade who buy from can neither be considered ‘reliable’ or ‘trusted’.
We therefore and respectfully call on Mr. Michael Wu, Chief Executive Officer of Maxim’s Catering Limited, to step up as a brave industry leader, listen to the scientific evidence, and suspend the sale all shark fin products – including shark fin soup products made from threatened blue sharks – with immediate effect.
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