Shark fin taken off hotel menus
Every year tens of million of sharks die to supply the demand for shark fin soup. This is an Asian custom which is particularly popular at high-class banquets and weddings throughout much of the Asia-Pacific region, especially in China. It is also served around the world in restaurants. It is literally just the fin that is removed from the sharks who are then tossed back overboard to die on the bottom of the ocean. Many shark species are in danger of becoming endangered due to this custom.
But lately the winds of change have begun to blow. There is much opposition to the this choice of cuisine from around the world. But the real hope is coming from some of the Asian countries themselves. Just this week on Wed., a Hong Kong based chain of Shangri-La hotels said it would stop serving shark fin soup immediately although existing banquet bookings would still be honored. This is considered to be a significant breakthrough for environmentalists because the chain has 72 hotels and resorts worldwide. The chain said it would also phase out threatened Bluefin tuna and Chilean sea bass by the end of 2012 as part of what it called a sustainable seafood policy.
In Sept. of 2011, a Singapore supermarket chain called "Cold Storage" announced that it would no longer sell shark fin and shark products at its 42 outlets across the country. It is Singapore’s first supermarket chain to adopt a “no shark fin” policy. Cold Storage is a subsidiary of Dairy Farm, which operates more than 5,300 outlets and employs some 80,000 people in the Asia-Pacific region so it is also a significant gain for the opposition against shark finning. Amy Ho, managing director of WWF Singapore said at the time, “For a nation where seafood is a popular meal choice, Cold Storage’s commitment offers consumers an opportunity to make choices that will protect fish stocks and endangered marine species over the long term.”
Recently certain states in the U.S. have also taken steps to ban shark fins. The California Senate passed legislation that would ban the trade, sale and possession of shark fins, becoming the fourth U.S. state to do so; Hawaii, Oregon and Washington are the others. Also Mexico announced plans to ban shark and stingray fishing starting sometime in 2012.
Hopefully other businesses, states and even countries will soon follow and also ban the sale of shark fins and shark fin soup. It is absolutely necessary to end this frivolous custom before it destroys many of the species of sharks in our oceans and upsets the balance of nature.