PETALING JAYA: Tour and travel agents have drawn the line when it comes to eateries with shark fin soup on their menus.
“Say it’s a three-star hotel that sells shark fin. We will not take them (tourists) there.
“We will not have functions there. We will not have events there,” Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) inbound vice-president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said.
He said it was the first time MATTA had made such a stand public, although the group had been against the eating of shark fins for years.
Tan said this after the group issued a statement quoting him as calling on the group’s 3,100-plus members to boycott places with shark fins on the menu.
He later clarified to The Star that this call was not a rule, but an advisory.
“The sharks help keep the ecosystem in order. Once the sharks are all gone, then the ecosystem will also change,” he said.
He also added that such a scenario would not be good for dive resorts.
Asked what led MATTA to make this call, he said it was due to Sabah state tourism minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun’s disappointment over the seeming lack of federal action on the matter.
MATTA’s press statement yesterday called on its members and partners to boycott restaurants offering sharkfin on their menus.
Quoting Tan, it said shark fin consumption was no longer in vogue and leading hotel chains such as Hilton, Hyatt, JW Marriott, Le Meridien, Peninsula, Shangri-La, Waldorf Astoria and Westin had stopped serving the dish.
“But in a recent report by the Hong Kong Shark Foundation, a shocking 98% of the 375 restaurants surveyed continue to choose money over environmentally friendly practices.
“If voluntary efforts are ineffective, tourism authorities could compile a list of restaurants that serve shark fin so that tourists could boycott them altogether, and not just the dish,” Tan said in the statement.
According to Tan, European Union countries had already prohibited shark finning since 2003 and by 2013, another 27 nations had joined them.
“Many tourists are environmental conscious and promoting ecotourism would backfire if we continue to allow our sharks to be slaughtered.
Tan said the banning of shark hunting and killing was under the purview of the Government but the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister did not wish to impose such a ban, even if it is for Sabah only.
“If a nationwide prohibition is not practical, the least the Government could do is to introduce it to the states that call for a ban, starting with Sabah.”