Poll: Fewer diners have appetite for shark's fin

Despite WWF-Singapore's findings, some hotels, restaurants say demand still healthy

The tide is turning against the consumption of shark's fin here, at least according to a survey by the World Wide Fund for Nature Singapore (WWF-Singapore).

The poll of 504 people carried out last year found that many are cutting down on their intake of the item - which is often obtained by cutting the fins off sharks and leaving them to die in the sea - and that three in four people would even back legislation to reduce consumption of it.

Eight out of 10 respondents, aged 18 to 60, also believe it is acceptable to serve alternatives to shark's fin soup at wedding banquets, where the dish has often been a tradition.

The delicacy has increasingly come under fire over the years for its adverse impact on wildlife.

According to WWF-Singapore, around 100 million sharks are killed each year for their fins.

Chief executive Elaine Tan said: "It is clear we are experiencing a cultural change where preservation of our ocean resources and conservation of the shark species is becoming more important to the majority of the public than the traditional value of shark's fin.

"It is time for businesses to step up and match the public's expectations, stop selling shark's fin and support sustainable seafood."

The survey found that of those who have eaten shark's fin, 54 per cent have lowered their consumption of the dish in the past year.

Some 41 per cent of consumers also plan to eat less over the next year. They cited reasons such as shark protection, change of dining culture and peer influence.

However, some hotels and restaurants that The Straits Times spoke to said demand for shark's fin is still very much alive.

Jumbo Seafood in East Coast still serves around 30 bowls every day and is expecting greater demand over Chinese New Year.

At Hotel Fort Canning, however, there has been a decline in demand, particularly for corporate banquets. Asked if the hotel would phase out shark's fin soup, sales and marketing director Vivien Ong, 41, said: "Ultimately the decision lies with the consumers."

Many hotels, including Marina Bay Sands and Grand Hyatt Singapore, have taken shark's fin off their menu over environmental concerns. A Hyatt spokesman said business has not been affected by this decision.

Student Audrey Wong, 19, and her family stopped eating shark's fin soup 11 years ago. She said: "Knowing how brutally sharks are killed is enough reason to stop."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 04, 2016, with the headline 'Poll: Fewer diners have appetite for shark's fin'. Print Edition | Subscribe