August 7, 2021Lu Shegay & Zihao Yu

Beyond Meat Unleashes Beyond Pork in China with New DTC E-Commerce Site


July 15, 2021

Following the launch of its new Beyond Chicken Tenders, Beyond Meat has announced the launch of its first DTC e-commerce site for the Chinese market, aiming to make its famous plant-based meat products more accessible to consumers throughout China.

Now to be available on – one of the country’s leading technology-driven e-commerce companies – the store opening marks the first time that consumers can directly purchase the specially developed Beyond Pork, its first innovation created specifically for the Chinese market. Beyond Beef and Beyond Burger products will also be available. The store is now operational for the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen, with future plans to expand to 300 more cities in the country in motion.

Beyond has recently collaborated with KFC China to create new Beyond Meat dishes at over 2,600 KFC restaurants in the country, as well as teaming up with well-known names in China’s dining scene. Marking its first manufacturing facility outside the US, Beyond also recently opened a new plant near Shanghai, making it the only multinational company focused solely on plant-based meat production to open its own production facility in China.

Commentaries of IALA

Pork consumption takes up 56% of the whole meat industry in China. China is the largest pork consumer in the world, and according to OECD, the average person in China consumes 24.4 kilograms of pork each year. With the impact of the African Swine Fever outbreak in China during 2018 and 2019, the supply and the price of pork have been changing a lot in recent years. The plant-based alternatives of pork would be a new trend for Chinese people to have a cruelty-free option for human health, animal protection, and environmental issues. Currently, plant-based food chains are developing rapidly in Asian countries, which makes it available for vegans to find some alternatives.

Indonesia to Send More Tuna Vessels Out into International Waters


July 22, 2021

Indonesia is expanding its longline fishing fleet in the high seas as part of its plan for a world-leading sustainable tuna fishery by 2025. The Indonesian fisheries ministry is issuing a policy update on the five-year sustainable management of the country’s top fisheries: tuna, skipjack, and mackerel. A senior official said the draft includes getting more Indonesian-flagged tuna longliners to operate farther beyond the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and into international waters.

The expansion, according to Trian Yunanda, the ministry’s fish resource director, is also part of the country’s efforts to tap into the increased harvest quota granted to Indonesia by regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs). These include the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), the Inter-Atlantic Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), and the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT).

Some observers have welcomed the planned expansion of the tuna fleet, but also called for the government to uphold sustainable measures, including reducing illegal and destructive practices, improving vessel data collection and monitoring, and increasing the quality of its catches.

In addition to the expansion of tuna longliners, the ministry also plans to adopt a tuna harvest strategy for the country’s waters; limit the number of operating fish aggregating devices; implement a temporary moratorium on tuna fishing in the Banda Sea to protect juveniles; and reduce the carbon footprint of its vessels. Much of the fishing grounds in the Pacific and Indian oceans, which Indonesia straddles, are already fully exploited, with many tuna species subject to overfishing.

Commentaries of IALA

In Indonesia, fishing and aquaculture are two major practices as the country is considered an island country with open access to the waters. One of the main farmed and caught aquatic animal is tuna, like in many other countries around the world. The global tuna fishery is valued at more than $40 billion every year, and Indonesia takes first place in the list. During 2012-2018, Indonesia caught approximately 628 000 metric tons of fish. While some other Asian countries, such as China and South Korea, operate industrial fleets, around 9/10 of Indonesia’s fisheries are done through traditional and/or small-scale fishers.

Aquaculture is a practice of farming, and, if speaking about land animals that are farmed, some animal advocates consider small farms a better life for land animals than big factory farms where animals have no sufficient space to even turn around and lie down. However, this is not the rule. Aquaculture, even small-scale one, can dramatically contribute to the rapid decline of some species of aquatic animals.

Indonesia has been working on banning foreign fishing vessels from its waters since 2017. It has been documented that the number of authorized tuna vessels larger than 30 gross tonnages nearly doubled to 664 between 2017 and 2020.

China Bans Cattle and Cattle Product Imports from Laos


July 23, 2021

China’s customs department said yesterday that it has banned the import of cattle and cattle products from Laos to prevent the spread of lumpy skin disease. The move came after Laos reported its first incidences of the disease in cattle earlier this year, according to an announcement on China’s General Administration of Customs website.

China confirmed Lumpy Skin Disease among its own cattle last year. The virus was first reported in Laos in April 2021, with the government exploring options for the provision of vaccines. The ban by China on cattle imports from Laos is a blow to the industry after Laos was granted a quota of 500,000 cattle for export to China in June.

Xinhua reports that more than 2,000 cattle were shipped to China from April 28 to May 4 across the border in Sing district of Luang Namtha province, with the Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry actively promoting the export of cattle among farmers.

Commentaries of IALA

Lumpy skin disease (LSD) is a disease of cattle and buffalo caused by lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV) and transmitted by blood-feeding insects, which has spread internationally since 2012 originally from Africa and the Middle East into south-eastern Europe. This disease was reported to be found in Asian countries in 2019 and continued to spread across many countries across Asia during 2020. 

This ban is based upon the Customs Law of the People's Republic of China, and the Import and Exporting Plant Quarantine Law and Its Implementation Regulations in order to prevent the epidemic and to protect the safety of animal husbandry. In mid-June, Cambodia in Southeast Asian countries also discovered lumpy skin disease, and the General Administration of Customs of China issued announcements to ban the import of cattle and related products from Cambodia on June 25. 

Hong Kong Customs Seizes HK$3.3 Million Worth of Fish Bladders from Endangered Totoaba Species


July 27, 2021

Hong Kong customs has seized HK$3.3 million (US$423,100) worth of dried fish bladders from the protected totoaba species after officers found them hidden in an air cargo consignment bound for Vietnam from Mexico. The 14.4kg of dried fish maw, taken from 39 totoaba, was hidden in two boxes that arrived in Hong Kong last Thursday.

The haul had an estimated street value of nearly HK$3.3 million, he said, adding that it was the first major seizure of its kind this year. Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an international treaty to protect endangered plants and animals, the totoaba is considered to be among the most endangered species on the planet.

In June last year, customs officers made their biggest seizure of totoaba fish bladders in nearly two decades, finding more than HK$25 million worth. The 160kg of bladders, airmailed from the United States, was more than four times the 37kg seized by customs officers over the past 18 years.

Commentaries of IALA

Totoaba is a species of marine fish, which is endemic to the Gulf of California in Mexico. It is included under Mexican Endangered Species List in 1975, CITES Appendix I in 1976, and U.S. Endangered Species List in 1979. It was assessed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List in 2007. The species has been seriously depleted due to overfishing and habitat alteration.

Swim bladders enable totoaba to maintain their buoyancy in the water. They are used in traditional medicines in China and can fetch up to £15,000 on the black market. Many people believe it can cure ailments such as arthritis. In 2019, authorities in China prosecuted 11 people for smuggling $119m (£90m) worth of fish swim bladders from Mexico.

In Hong Kong, importing or exporting endangered species without a license carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail and a HK$10 million fine.

There’s Still Room to Save Asia’s Hoolock Gibbons, Study Says


July 27, 2021

Swinging lithely from branch to branch high up in the forest canopy, a family of hoolock gibbons hoots vigorously to guard its territory against intruders. A type of small ape endemic to South and Southeast Asia, hoolock gibbons spend most of their lives up in trees, rarely touching the forest floor. This makes large stretches of uninterrupted forest crucial to their survival — yet such suitable patches are getting scarcer, a new study has found.

Researchers, whose study was published July 16 in Global Ecology and Conservation, came up with estimates for the area of hoolock gibbon habitat that disappeared between 2000 and 2018, and the area remaining today, across the four countries of Myanmar, India, Bangladesh, and China where the apes occur.

Analyzing all three species of hoolock gibbons — the Gaoligong hoolock (Hoolock tianxing) and the western hoolock (Hoolock hoolock), both endangered, and the eastern hoolock (Hoolock leuconedys), which is vulnerable — they found that enough suitable patches exist today to guarantee the long-term survival of each species. Despite this rosy conclusion, the report also highlighted particular populations at greater risk of local extinction.

To protect remaining hoolock gibbon populations, the study identified 27 “stronghold areas,” or large patches of suitable habitat at least 250 square kilometers (97 square miles) in size, for conservation. Today, these strongholds amount to 165,679 km2 (63,969 mi2) — an area slightly larger than Bangladesh — of forest across the four countries, with 22% currently highly threatened due to hunting and forest loss, 23.5% at a medium threat level, and 55% at a low threat level. Faced with dual threats of hunting and habitat loss, populations have declined more than 90% in the past 40 years, with an estimated 3,000 western hoolock gibbons left in the wild.

Commentaries of IALA

The hoolock gibbons are the primate species of genus Hoolock that are native to Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, and China. There are numerous threats to hoolock gibbons, that includes habitat encroachment, forest fragmentation, hunting for food and traditional medicine, and capture for the pet trade. Because humans continue infrastructure development and carve roads through forests and clear trees for timber and agricultural land, the population of these animals declines, and thus, those factors make these animals more vulnerable. All three species of hoolock gibbons are listed in the IUCN Red List under the “Vulnerable” and “Endangered” categories.

Southeast Asia Losing Tigers as Deadline Looms to Double Population by 2022


July 29, 2021

Tigers once roamed throughout the densely forested interior of mainland Southeast Asia and several islands of Indonesia. Positioned at the pinnacle of the food chain, tigers maintain ecosystem balance, and by protecting them, we can preserve entire biodiverse landscapes. However, the long-term survival of this flagship conservation species now hangs in the balance. In 2010, government ministers from the 13 countries that still had wild tiger populations committed to implementing measures to double the wild population of the big cats by 2022.

In Southeast Asia, it is highly unlikely that this goal will be met. In fact, many countries in the region have fewer tigers now than when the pledge was made. Over the past few years, tigers have gone locally extinct in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam; over the past two decades, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and, to a lesser extent, Thailand, have seen their tiger populations shrink.

What tigers need most are sufficient forest habitat, ample prey, and reliable protection. If tiger recovery efforts in Southeast Asia can put these elements in place, then perhaps at least population trajectories will be going in the right direction by the time 2022 comes along.

Commentaries of IALA

Past International Tiger Day, a day to raise awareness about the tigers and the major threats they face, it is necessary to mention why these magnificent animals are important to maintaining the ecosystem balance. In Asia, there are a few species of tigers, such as the Sumatran tiger, Malayan tiger, Indochinese tiger, etc. Unfortunately, what’s common among these species is that they all are threatened by illegal hunting. In Southeast Asia, for instance, poachers “stalk tigers to feed the illegal domestic and international trade in tiger products. According to the IUCN, at least 50 Sumatran tigers were killed in Indonesia each year between 1998 and 2002, both for trade and as a result of human-tiger conflict.”

As for the Malayan tiger, in accordance with the IUCN, in 2014, it was estimated that the subspecies are critically endangered, with a population between 80 and 120. Some efforts have been made by both the government and NGOs to conserve this species. For instance, anti-poaching patrols have been established that contributed to a 94% reduction in active snares since 2017.

The population of Indochinese tigers was estimated as fewer than 200 in Thailand, but some breeding programs have been confirmed - in the Western Forest Complex close to the Thai-Myanmar border, and in the Dong-Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex.

“Tiger ‘farms’ are another major threat to wild tigers in Southeast Asia that continue to undermine conservation efforts and stoke the relentless trade in tiger parts. WWF estimates 8,000 tigers are held in captivity in China, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, where they’re bred, raised, and killed for their body parts. A 2019 TRAFFIC report calculated an average of 120 tigers per year were seized from traffickers between 2000 and 2018 in Southeast Asia. More than half of the tigers seized in Thailand and a third of those in Vietnam came from captive-breeding facilities.”

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