Opting against shark fin soup


Still on the menu: A shop displaying an array of shark fins at a shop selling dry food in Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur.

PETALING JAYA: Being more aware that sharks are in danger of being over-fished, the younger generation is opting not to have shark fin soup served at weddings.

This awareness made it easier for a five-star hotel chain to drop the dish from its menu.

Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur area director of communications Datuk Rosemarie Wee said the chain removed shark fin soup from its menu in December 2010, throughout its 91 hotel worldwide.

Currently, there are 10 Shangri-La hotels in Malaysia.

“We decided to do away with shark fin soup in accordance with our corporate social responsibility initiative. We have also removed blue fin tuna and Chilean sea bass as these are very rare creatures as well,” Wee said when contacted.

Shark fins are highly popular and are used in soups. In Chinese culture, it symbolises wealth, power, prestige and honour.

After the removal, Shangri-La introduced other alternatives for Chinese weddings such as bamboo fungus, lily bulbs, American ginseng and snow fungus.

“With the younger generation’s awareness and the substitutes that we have, it’s proving to be very good (for business). So there is no issue about not having shark fin soup at weddings nowadays. It does not affect our sales,” she added.

During the first year, Wee said the hotel still served shark fins to honour commitments made to weddings booked a year earlier.

“We couldn’t go back on our word despite announcing our new policy. It took us six to eight months to phase out everything after the announcement. The transition to being shark fin-free was smooth,” she said.

Unlike other establishments which resort to using synthetic shark fins made from gelatine, Wee said the hotel was firm in its policy.

“If we want to do away with the shark fins, why would we want to ignite their taste buds (with synthetics). There is no point to that. We feel that once we commit, we must commit all the way,” she added.

On Tuesday, Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents inbound vice-president Datuk Tan Kok Liang issued an advisory to association members and partners to boycott restaurants serving shark fins.

Tan said shark fin consumption was no longer in vogue and leading hotel chains such as the Hilton, Hyatt, JW Marriott, Le Meridien, Peninsula, Shangri-La, Waldorf Astoria and Westin had stopped serving the dish.


   

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