PETALING JAYA, Jan 13 — Traditionally, shark fins are served as part of a soup delicacy commonly at festivities, especially on Chinese New Year, wedding banquets and corporate dinner.
The popular Chinese dish is always served as the fifth course — right before the wedding couple makes their rounds to greet guests whom they have just impressed — with the most expensive dish of the night.
However, with the high demand being the main reason why shark fishing cannot be sustained, WWF-Malaysia has taken the initiative to minimise human impact on the shark and marine ecosystem, via the ‘Wedding without Fins’ campaign.
The campaign, which collaborated with ‘Shark Savers Malaysia’ will champion the fight for sharks by working with wedding planners to make sure soon-to-be-wed couples opt for fin-free wedding banquets this year.
WWF-Malaysia Sustainable Seafood Programme manager Chitra Dewi G. said through the campaign, wedding planners would be identified and approached to phase out shark fin soup from their menus at banquets.
She said a study by WWF-Malaysia’s Asian City Shark Fin Consumer Survey revealed that 85 per cent of shark fin soup consumption was tied to celebrations such as weddings.
“Through several campaigns from WWF-Malaysia such as the ‘My Fin My Life’ campaign last year, we found that although people generally sympathised, most are not ready to commit to saving sharks.
“We hope through the wedding planners, we will able to deliver direct and better impact on business engagement for shark conservation,” she told a press conference here today.
Shark Savers Malaysia president Abner Yap suggested that in order to support ‘Wedding Without Fins’ campaign, wedding planners could offer discount or special privilege to their clients through packages.
“For examples, they can collaborate with the hotels and restaurants to offer free menus in wedding banquets or free service such as photograph sessions,” he said.
He said during this Chinese New Year, there was an option for consumers to say ‘no’ to shark fin soup and that they could start by not ordering or cooking the dish, as well.
“We understand that traditionally, this is a delicacy that is favoured as part of the festive celebrations but we are appealing to consumers to leave shark fins out of their dishes this time around.
“This can be a first step and we hope eventually, those who currently enjoy eating shark fin soup will favour the need to protect sharks, instead of consuming its parts and meat,” he said.
Shark fins are usually associated with prosperity and are also served as a mark of prestige or to honour guests.
WWF-Malaysia Executive Director Datuk Dr Dionysius S. K. Sharma said ‘Wedding without Fins’ campaign was a part of continuation in the ‘My Fin My Life’ campaign last year to raise awareness on the plight of sharks and stopping the consumption of shark fins or products.
“We found the campaign to be challenging as we could not reach our goal to sensitise 20,000 restaurants to phase out shark fin soup from their menus last year...this was due to difficulty in engaging with target restaurants.
“We aim to get more businesses to remove shark fin from their corporate dining. So by this campaign, we hope to deliver the awareness of protecting our marine wildlife through wedding planners to the restaurants and hotels to reach our goal,” he said. — Bernama