Shark fin demand sinks

By

Neil Ray, SeafoodSource contributing editor, reporting from Bangkok

Published on
March 29, 2009

It appears shark fins, an Asian delicacy, are becoming decreasingly popular as younger generations reject the tradition of serving shark fin soup at family celebrations.

In particular, in Southeast Asian countries, such as Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, all of which have high Chinese populations, shark fin sales have plummeted.

Environmentalists have been lobbying for years to stop shark finning, the practice of cutting off a shark's fin and throwing the live shark back in the water, because they say it's inhumane. When a shark's fin is removed it cannot swim properly and is vulnerable to predators. Fishermen argue that shark meat has little value.

In Singapore, the Association of Chefs has pulled the soup from the menu at its recent annual dinner, which represents a major shift in attitude toward this traditional Chinese dish.

Singapore University students report that very few people would eat shark fins, partly because of the expense, but also because they're opposed to shark finning.

The British wildlife group Traffic says that with increasing access to information via the Internet, younger Asians are rejecting many of their parents' culinary traditions.

However, demand for shark fins remains strong among the elder Chinese population, who still view the upscale dish as status symbol.

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