Restaurants and hotels sign up to provide shark-free banquet menus

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 May, 2010, 12:00am

Twelve hotels and restaurants are offering shark-free banquet menus as part of a World Wildlife Fund initiative to help save shark stocks from being decimated.

The development is a big step forward for conservation efforts in Hong Kong, which handles up to 80 per cent of the global shark fin trade. Last year, the city imported more than 9,300 tonnes of shark fins, WWF said.

Dr Andy Cornish, the group's Hong Kong director of conservation, said members had approached between 30 and 40 restaurants and hotels to join the scheme and were expecting more to sign up soon.

The 12 'founding' participants had all agreed immediately to join the scheme, which Cornish said was heartening given Hongkongers' love of shark fins and other exotic but often endangered seafood species.

The restaurants and hotels have also agreed to ensure the rest of the seafood on their menus comes from sustainable sources.

Shark's fin soup will still be available on their existing menus.

The hotels which have joined the scheme are JW Marriott Hotel, The Excelsior and The Langham; the restaurants are five branches of Choi Fook Royal Banquet, and two branches each of The Banqueting House, and The China House.

Toby Kwan Hoi-lam, marketing manager of LH Group, which owns two of the participating restaurants said their new shark-free menu for 12 costs HK$4,980, while the existing ones with shark start at HK$7,000.

Cornish said alternative banquet menus was a significant step forward to reducing Hong Kong's impact on many shark populations worldwide.

'We've heard of countless battles by individuals who've struggled to find shark-free banquets in recent years, and these moves are a response to those desires for consumer options,' he said.

Angel Kwong Hung, president of the Wedding Management Association, said 5 per cent of weddings were now environmentally friendly. Apart from 'sustainable produce' banquet menus, the wedding gowns and bridesmaids dresses were rented, while transport was by low-pollution hybrid vehicles.