Fairmont takes shark's fin off the menu

19 Jul 2012

Fairmont Hotels and Resorts has announced the removal of shark's fin from the menus at all of its properties in Asia, joining a growing number of hospitality players in the effort of protecting the sustainability and welfare of sharks.

According to World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), in 2010, over 180 shark species, including whale shark and basking shark, were considered threatened with extinction, mainly because of demand for shark fins. According to World Conservation Union (IUCN), shark finning is a cruel practice that involves cutting fins off from the shark and discarding the rest of the body back into the ocean (thereby sparing more space onboard for the pricey commodity), causing the shark to drown or become a target of predators, as it can no longer swim.

Fairmont first removed shark's fin from menus in four of its hotels in 2009 when launching a sustainable seafood initiative. Now, the hotel is making a formal commitment to conserve threatened marine species on the brand level. Consulting relevant watchdogs on all seafood purchases, the hotel introduces more ethical substitutes to shark fin, including mud crab, oysters, lobster and green-lipped mussels. So far, customer feedback to the decision to take shark's fin off the table has been very positive, said Jean Michel Offe, Fairmont’s vice-president, food and beverage.

When asked whether the hotel feared loss of customers for this new move, Offe said that there may be nominal impact on business in the short term but the hotel believed customers sharing the same viewpoint would welcome the change. Besides, he added, the hotel has observed steady decline in the sale of shark fin dishes over the past few years, as Chinese cuisine today, particularly with the younger generation, is more focused on modern trends and local specialities.

Other hotel groups that have banned shark's fin include Shangri-La and The Peninsula.

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Michelle Fong

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