SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - About 89 Singapore establishments in food and hospitality industry have decided to take shark's fin soup and other shark products off their menus over the course of this year, heeding the World Wide Fund of Nature's (WWF) call to action last year.
The decision was announced by the WWF yesterday. It is the largest collective pledge by the local industry to date.
Shark's fin, often served in a soup, is a traditional delicacy and mainstay of Chinese weddings and banquets.
The establishments can phase out shark's fin in three ways - remove it from menus, stop serving it for a trial period or remove it from menus and serve it only upon request.
The 89 establishments took either the first or third option.
Hotel group Pan Pacific, which has 34 properties and seven restaurants globally, opted for a clean break. Since Jan 1, shark's fin and other shark products have been taken off menus.
Its vice-president of food and beverage, Mr Golden Whitehead, added: "Neither will shark's fin be available upon request, as Pan Pacific Hotels Group will not sell, display or purchase shark's fin or shark products any more.
"But we will honour wedding packages with shark's fin if these were signed before Jan 1."
Local Chinese restaurant group Crystal Jade will be taking shark's fin soup off this year's Chinese New Year menu.
Shark's fin will be phased out of its main menus by July 31 and served only upon request.
Mr Douglas DeBoer, chief executive officer (CEO) of Crystal Jade Culinary Concepts, is not worried that business will take a hit.
BIG STEP FORWARD
He said: "We feel that many younger and environmentally conscious customers will appreciate and support that we have taken this big step forward."
Food delivery platform Foodpanda is also taking the plunge.
Currently, 93 of some 3,800 merchants on its platform offer shark's fin or shark products. But come next month, the items will be completely phased out of the platform's menu.
Miss Laura Kantor, Foodpanda Singapore's head of marketing and sustainability lead, said: "This is not a decision we took lightly, because we still want to work with our merchants to offer our customers choice. But we felt this was an important initiative for us to join."
Ms Elaine Tan, CEO of WWF Singapore, said: "By the time WWF reached out to them for the pledge over the past year, many of the businesses were already primed to have this discussion with us."
According to a report last year by WWF and Traffic, a wildlife-trade monitoring network, Singapore is the world's second largest shark's fin trader by value after Hong Kong, with imports standing at $65 million and exports at $50.4 million.
Some restaurants are still serving the dish.
A spokesman for Jumbo Group said: "We believe in providing customers various food options that cater to different preferences. As such, we also offer alternatives, such as fish maw soup with crab meat, to replace shark's fin soup."