WWF urges HK to shun horseshoe crab sales

Conservation group WWF Hong Kong has called on restaurants and seafood vendors in the SAR to stop selling horseshoe crabs as their numbers are swiftly dwindling.

According to WWF, the local horseshoe crab population is estimated to number 4,500 to 7,300 individuals – a drop of around 90 percent compared to 10 years ago.

The call comes after the organisation released the findings of a survey concerning the public’s understanding of horseshoe crabs to coincide with international horseshoe crab day on Sunday.

The survey was carried out in January and around 1,000 Hong Kong residents were interviewed.

It found that 53 percent of those surveyed have never heard of horseshoe crabs, but about two-thirds of those who were familiar with them had seen them in real life, being sold in seafood markets and restaurants.

When asked if they would ever purchase horse shoecrab – and once they were told it was a protected species – 99 percent of those
surveyed said they would not buy it for any reason.

When asked if they would be deterred from going to a restaurant or store with horseshoe crab on display, about 60 percent said yes.

Lydia Pang, WWF Hong Kong’s project manager for oceans conservation, said: “This is quite good momentum to drive the restaurants and fish stores to change their way of operation.”

She also referred to a survey from September 2020 to March 2021, where the WWF visited various popular seafood restaurants and markets to see how many places were selling horseshoe crabs.

They found only seven out of 98 randomly selected shops were selling or displaying horseshoe crabs.

Pang said although this isn’t a high number, the group would be launching a campaign to remove horseshoe crabs from the market.