A Hong Kong court sentenced a Japanese man who smuggled 60 endangered turtles to a year in prison, a huge disappointment for environmentalists. While the turtles (minus one) are now back in Japan, wildlife experts say the case highlights the need for tougher penalties as the illegal wildlife trade grows
The hunting of the Sunda pangolin and its smuggling abroad is on the rise. The police consider it to be transnational crime. Belief in this animal’s healing power – from increasing libido and to being used in the preparation of psychotropic medication – and the legalisation of its use in some countries has increased demand. The price of this rare nocturnal creature remains high because its is illegal to hunt.
Marine conservation NGO, BLOOM HK says it has launched Hong Kong’s first citizen science led online directory for reef fish, the 114°E Hong Kong Reef Fish Web-Portal (“114°E Web-Portal”) that contains live photographs and full profiles of nearly 400 species from at least 88 families of reef fishes found in Hong Kong waters.
“For a lot of buyers in Asia, awareness of seafood sustainability is close to non-existent. They know about the MSC [Marine Stewardship Council], but not much about where that certification comes from or what it means,” she said. “Seafood Market Tool is not just a tool for Peninsula, but it’s also a tool that can be donated in a pre-competitive model into the Hong Kong sustainable seafood coalition (HKSSC).”
Lack of deterrence in sentencing is not the only significant problem plaguing the effective prosecution of wildlife crime in Hong Kong. When large seizures are made, AFCD are routinely tasked with investigating the offences, under Cap. 586, despite having insufficient legislative powers to tackle the organised networks behind the smuggling. The primary piece of legislation used to combat organised crime in Hong Kong is, the Organised and Serious Crimes Ordinance (“OSCO”), Cap. 455.