3 of 4 Singaporeans support laws to reduce shark fin consumption: WWF survey

In a survey by the World Wide Fund for Nature, more than half of the respondents said they ate less shark fin in the past 12 months, and most thought a shark fin soup alternative would be acceptable at banquets.
Channel NewsAsia 3 Feb 16;

SINGAPORE: Three out of four consumers in Singapore think the Government is not doing enough to protect sharks, and would support legislation against shark fin consumption, according to the results of a survey by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) released on Wednesday (Feb 3).

Most respondents – 82 per cent – said they did not consume any shark or ray meat in the last year. For those who did, 74 per cent of them had shark fin soup at wedding banquets. But more than 80 per cent said an alternative to shark fin would be acceptable, with the majority opting for double-boiled or braised seafood soup as substitutes.

The survey, which polled 504 people, found that most people who reduced their consumption of shark fin did so because of an increase in awareness of shark protection.

More than three-quarters of respondents also said they would pay more for seafood that is responsibly sourced, although 55 per cent said only if it was a "small increase".


According to the wildlife protection group, around 100 million sharks are killed each year for their fins.

"In the absence of sustainably managed shark fisheries, the demand for shark fin is putting many shark species under extreme pressure with shark populations unable to replenish at the same rate they are caught and finned," it said.

Ms Elaine Tan, CEO of WWF Singapore, said there has however been a cultural change, and that the preservation of ocean resources and the conservation of sharks are becoming more important to the majority of the public than the traditional value of shark fin soup.

"It is time for business to step up and match the public’s expectations, stop selling shark fin and support sustainable seafood," she added.

Regional Director of the Asia-Pacific at NGO Shark Savers Jonn Lu said the stage was set for legal action: "The Singapore public are already educated on this issue and ready to support policymakers in applying legal controls on the consumption of shark fin, progressing towards a ban on the trade of shark fin here."

Within the region, Malaysia, China and Hong Kong have already imposed banqueting bans preventing shark fin being served at official functions, while Brunei was the first country in 2013 to ban the catch and landing of all shark species in its national waters as well as banning the domestic and international trade in shark fin, WWF said in the release.

- CNA/mz

3 in 4 S’poreans would back law to reduce shark’s fin consumption: WWF survey
KELLY NG Today Online 3 Feb 16;

SINGAPORE — Three in four people here, or 76 per cent, think the Government is not doing enough to protect sharks, and they are also willing to back legislation to reduce consumption and trade of shark’s fin, a survey by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature Singapore (WWF-Singapore) has found.

Of the 504 Singaporeans polled, 82 per cent said they have not consumed shark or ray products in the last 12 months. The poll was conducted over five weeks in October and November.

Among those who have, 57 per cent are male, and 54 per cent are between 35 and 50 years old. Almost nine in 10 of these consumers are Chinese and have cited “gathering and celebration” as their top reason for eating shark’s fin soup.

Nevertheless, 82 per cent of the respondents find double-boiled or braised seafood soup “acceptable” alternatives at wedding banquets.

WWF-Singapore chief executive officer Elaine Tan said the Republic is experiencing a “clear cultural change” where the preservation of oceanic resources is becoming more important than the traditional value of shark’s fin.

“It is time for businesses to step up and match the public’s expectations, stop selling shark’s fin and support sustainable seafood,” she said.

Several hotels approached by TODAY have taken shark’s fin soup off their menus two to three years ago, but some still offer the dish upon request. The Millennium and Copthorne International chain of hotels, for instance, have taken shark’s fin soup off banquet menus since 2014, but still offer it in restaurants.

Its regional F&B director Andy Wong said: “We serve it in banquets only if guests insist. We are exploring different alternatives, such as fish maw and seafood soup, to offer guests items with similar health benefits.”

A spokesperson for Riverview Hotel, which offers wedding banquet packages both with and without shark’s fin soup, said the latter is most popular among young couples in their late 20s and early 30s.

Luxury resort Capella Singapore has instituted a “no shark’s fin” policy across its restaurants since 2013, as “the whole process of (finning) was not right for us”, said general manager Alexandro Helbling.

Scientists estimate that around 100 million sharks are killed each year for their fins, in a process many see as brutal and wasteful, because the finless sharks are often thrown overboard and left to die.

The number of shark species and shark-related species considered threatened has soared 12-fold from 15 in 1996 to over 180 in 2010.

The Singapore Government can take the lead in reducing shark’s fin consumption by prohibiting it from dishes served at official functions, said WWF-Singapore communications director Kim Stengert.

Shark Savers regional director John Lu said the survey results show that the public is educated on this issue. “The stage is set for legal action. The Singapore public is ... ready to support policymakers in applying legal controls on the consumption of shark’s fin, progressing towards a ban in the trade of shark’s fin here,” he said.

In June 2013, Brunei became the first Asian country to ban shark finning in national waters, as well as the sale, trade and import of shark’s fin products.

Three months later, Hong Kong, then the world’s largest trade hub for shark’s fin, said it would no longer allow the dish to be served at official functions. Countries, such as China and Malaysia, have also followed suit.

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