Hong Kong restaurant chains named and shamed over shark fin sale

Hong Kong Shark Foundation says some chains actively sell threatened species, while others do not know the origin of their products

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 May, 2017, 7:44pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 May, 2017, 10:30pm

Several Hong Kong restaurant chains have been named and shamed in new research by a shark awareness group over their sales tactics, lack of transparency and poor approach to the conservation of the threatened species.

Ming Garden and King of the King Group were branded “the worst of the worst” for their approach to selling shark fin.

The Hong Kong Shark Foundation surveyed 23 chains with up to 400 restaurants across the city for its “shark killer ranking”.

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Some chains were found to be actively selling threatened shark species classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature or that are on the protection list under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species.

Some outlets did not know the shark fin species it was serving, the foundation said, while others heavily promoted and discounted their products.

Prentice Koo Wai-muk, campaign manager for the group, said: “We hope we can prompt restaurants to learn the good practice of shark conservation from each other.

“We also hope customers will take this as a reference for wedding and birthday banquets. These restaurants are so similar it is easy to avoid the worst of the worst on the ranking and try something less evil,” Koo added.

Among the better restaurants, Wealth Banquet was willing to grant access for its campaigners to try to persuade its customers not to buy shark fin, Koo said. LH Group was one of the best for its efforts in raising awareness of threatened sharks.

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A spokesman for King of the King Group said it provided an alternative menu with no shark fin dishes.

“So far, around one in two customers opt for shark fin-free banquets, and the trend is growing with an increased awareness of conservation in recent years,” he said.

Asked if the restaurant chain would start phasing out shark fin, he admitted the company had to remain competitive by catering to customers’ demands.

“We actually support the use of alternative ingredients such as fish maw, whelk and other dried seafood,” he said, adding prices could be cut by 10 per cent if shark fin was omitted.

He would not reveal which type of shark fin the company used, saying only that supply had been less stable in recent years and prices had risen.

Ming Garden could not be reached for comment.

HOW THEY RATED

The Hong Kong Shark Foundation used a scale of zero to -200, where zero is the best:

-151 to -200: Ming Garden, King of the King Group

-101 to -150: Paramount, Lei Garden, Taoheung, Star Seafood, Federal, Hsinkuang, Choifook, Fulum

-51 to -100: Star of Canton, Treasure Lake, Palace Wedding Banquet, U-Banquet, Majesty, Hoi Kong, Dragon King, Hochoi

-1 to -50: Super Star, East Ocean, Wealth Banquet

0 to -50: Maxim’s, LH Group