WWF welcomes move by Peninsula hotel chain away from shark fin

Posted on 24 November 2011

WWF congratulates Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels group on its groundbreaking decision to stop serving shark fin at its hotel and resort properties as of 1 January, 2012.
WWF congratulates Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels group on its groundbreaking decision to stop serving shark fin at its hotel and resort properties as of 1 January, 2012.  Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels is the parent company of the Peninsula hotel chain and operates nine luxury Peninsula hotels, as well as other properties across Asia and the United States.  

Having campaigned for years to stop the over-fishing of sharks around the world, WWF fully supports the company's move. Furthermore, WWF applauds the motivation behind its announcement, to “inspire other hospitality companies to do the same and that our industry will play a role in helping to preserve the biodiversity of our oceans,” according to a company statement.

WWF hopes that this declaration will be a turning point for sharks around the world. Silvy Pun, WWF-Hong Kong shark programme officer said, “We are thrilled with the leadership shown by Hongkong and Shaghai Hotels in saying no to shark fins. To give sharks and our oceans a fighting chance, we need more hotels and Chinese restaurants to take action like this, which will result in greatly reduced demand for shark fin from Hong Kong.”

Since May 2010, WWF-Hong Kong has been actively promoting an Alternative Shark Free Menu Programme to hotels and restaurants across the city. The programme was a major step in encouraging local caterers to provide shark-free banquet options in addition to their usual menus. The number of participating companies has surged eight-fold in a single year. Now, nearly 100 hotels and Chinese restaurants are offering their own unique, shark-free banquet options. This growing support from the catering sector implies that the market trend is changing and consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious.

In the wake of this annoucement, we are looking forward to cooperating with many more restaurant and hospitality groups in Hong Kong and around the world and welcoming them to our Alternative Shark Free Menu programme.

Hongkong and Shanghai Hotel's high-profile declaration is a reminder of the current plight of the world's sharks. The number of threatened shark and related species has increased twelve-fold since 1996. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List, the number of species currently under threat is 181.

One major reason for this is that sharks tend to be long-lived and relatively slow to reproduce, making them particularly vulnerable to overfishing. The lack of effective catch limits and the unsustainable fishing of sharks in general is another cause. Together these factors have created a critical threat to the survival of many shark species.

To reverse the damage will take years. It will require a cooperative, multi-pronged approach; it will require adopting effective shark management strategies in different fishery territories; it will require effective trade monitoring across nations; and it will require multiple education and consumer campaigns around the world.

But most of all, it will require people to balance their desire to consume shark fin with the need to stop sharks from becoming extinct.  WWF-Hong Kong looks forward to more announcements like this in the near future.

The growing trade in shark fins — often used to make an expensive Asian soup — has become a serious threat to many shark species.
© WWF / Jürgen Freund