Major hotels pledge to ban shark's fin soup

A waitress serving shark fin soup in a restaurant in Guangzhou, China. Hospitality groups Hilton Worldwide, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and Hyatt are among major industry players here who have joined a campaign against serving the dish. -- PHOTO: AF
A waitress serving shark fin soup in a restaurant in Guangzhou, China. Hospitality groups Hilton Worldwide, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and Hyatt are among major industry players here who have joined a campaign against serving the dish. -- PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Some of the world's largest hospitality groups have joined the fight against shark's fin soup.

Hilton Worldwide, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and Hyatt are among major industry players here who joined the I'm FINished with fins campaign at a ceremony yesterday.

The campaign asks 100,000 Singaporeans to pledge not to consume shark's fin dishes and to educate the public about the environmental damage caused by the shark's fin trade.

Hilton Asia Pacific president Martin Rinck said: "The hospitality industry possesses immense potential and responsibility to effect positive change for our society and planet."

Hilton banned shark's fin in the 669 properties it owns and manages globally on April 1. Starwood, which owns hotel brands such as Sheraton and Westin, banned the dish on July in its nearly 1,200 hotels worldwide.

To date, 15 major hotel chains here have announced they are "fin-free" and 24 airlines, including Singapore Airlines, have officially refused to carry the fins on their cargo flights.

A spokesperson for Resorts World Sentosa said shark's fin is not on the menu. He added: "While we have alternatives available, if a customer within our private gaming rooms strongly wants the dish, we will serve it."

Corporations outside the hospitality and F&B industries are finding ways to do their bit as well.

Artiste management firm Fly Entertainment, film distributor Shaw Organisation and teleco SingTel have pledged to banish shark's fin from all business entertainment and internal banqueting.

World Wildlife Fund Singapore chief executive Elaine Tan said: "We're witnessing declines in imports and exports of shark's fin and reportedly up to a 50 per cent drop in wholesale prices as more diners in Singapore say no to shark's fin soup."

An estimated 100 million sharks are harvested yearly, with up to 73 million killed just for their fins. Some shark populations have declined by up to 98 per cent in the last 15 years.

I'm FINished with fins is a home-grown campaign launched in 2012, and is active in places including China, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Campaign founder Jonn Lu said that while getting restaurants to ban shark's fin is important, he also wants to reduce demand for the dish. "It is far more efficient to work on consumers," he said.

oliviaho@sph.com.sg