Young lead way as shark's fin soup loses appeal

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 April, 2011, 12:00am


Diners seem to be losing their desire for shark's fin soup.

'For the catering industry as a whole only 30 to 40 per cent of dinners and banquets requested the soup in the past year,' said Simon Wong Ka-wo, chairman of the Kampery Group, a catering company that focuses on coffee roasting, tea production and organic foods.

The figure excludes the one social occasion where shark's fin soup has remained a constant on the menu - weddings.

'Even though overall consumption of shark fin has decreased, 90 per cent of weddings still serve the soup,' Wong said.

But this may be about to change. A survey commissioned by the non-profit environmental group Bloom HK found that of 1,000 Hong Kong residents it interviewed, 78 per cent thought it was acceptable not to serve shark's fin soup at a wedding.

One couple who tested this theory are newly-weds Harry Sin and Vivian Or Wai-yin who decided to serve sea cucumber soup instead of the traditional shark fin at their nuptials.

'My wife said it was a good idea not to serve shark fin. After just a little bit of research, we found that some of the sharks that we could be eating are endangered. As we wouldn't know if the sharks we would be serving were endangered or not, it seemed to be the logical and simple choice not to serve it,' Sin said.

The couple found little resistance to their decision.

Or said: 'No one made negative comments. In fact, most people said positive things. I have even been to another wedding where shark's fin soup was not served - they decided to serve bird's nest soup instead.'

This willingness of couples to consider alternative soups for their weddings was indicative of a change in the perceptions of young people about environmental issues, like the depleting shark population, in the past 10 years, said Professor Yvonne Sadovy, a marine biologist at the University of Hong Kong.

This change of attitude is especially significant in Hong Kong, which handles at least 50 per cent of the global trade, importing fins from at least 145 countries, which is estimated to require the death of 73 million sharks annually.

Sadovy believes that falling demand here will have a global effect.

Changing tastes

Proportion of 1,000 residents surveyed who thought it acceptable not to serve shark's fin soup at a wedding: 78%