DUBAI // The UAE is the world's fourth largest exporter of shark fins to Hong Kong and not the fifth, as was previously thought.
Dr Shelley Clarke examined the latest figures and used a more sophisticated form of analysis than has been applied previously, and concluded that the UAE ranks behind Spain, Singapore and Taiwan and ahead of Indonesia.
Dr Clarke is the world's leading expert on the shark fin trade. The finding was announced today at a conservation conference by another shark expert, Sonja Fordham.
Last year 387 tonnes of raw shark fins were exported to Hong Kong, which accounts for half of the total global trade. The fins are used to make a soup that is a highly valued delicacy in China.
Ms Fordham said the UAE supplied between six and eight per cent of Hong Kong's total shark fun imports, and up to 80 per cent of overall shipments from the Middle East, with most of the rest coming from Yemen.
However most of the sharks that are sold at the UAE's fish markets are imported from other countries, with many coming from Oman. The UAE is nevertheless listed as the country of origin in Hong Kong's trade records, irrespective of where the sharks were caught.
"We all know and accept that a small proportion are coming from here, but the vast majority come from elsewhere, so the UAE is a distribution centre," said Ms Fordham, a shark specialist at the International Fund for Conservation of Nature. "But that is not being reported by the traders to Hong Kong, they are reporting the UAE as the country of origin."
She was speaking at the Shark Conservation Arabia Workshop, which is being held by the International Fund for Animal Welfare in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and Water and Sharkquest Arabia.