Shark fin consumption boosted by robust economy, weddings: report

May 10th, 2008 - 4:58 pm ICT by admin  

Singapore, May 10 (DPA) Consumption of shark’s fins soared in Singapore last year powered by a robust economy and an increase in weddings despite pleas from environmental groups noting one-third of the species in the world are at risk of extinction or critically endangered, a published report said Saturday. More than 470 tonnes were devoured in 2007 compared to 182 tonnes in 2006 placing Singapore among the world’s top five shark fin importers alongside Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Indonesia, the Straits Times said. Hong Kong is the top consumer.

“Globally, there are fewer sharks in our waters that can be hunted now, so naturally prices go up,” Dennis Yiu, director of Singapore’s biggest shark’s fin supplier, was quoted as saying. The company, which supplies the delicacy to 40 hotels and restaurants, saw a 20 percent increase in sales.

A medium-grade dried shark’s fin of 10 to 15 cm costs 500 Singapore dollars ($373) compared with 300 Singapore dollars ($223) in 2003, the report said. Consumption had gone down since 2003, according to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority.

“People had more money to spend” last year, said Julia Yu, the marketing manager of another supplier.

The popularity of the delicacy at Chinese wedding banquets was also cited. Nearly 24,000 marriages were registered last year, the highest number since 1999.

Hotels, including the Mandarin Oriental and Orchard Hotel, said shark’s fin remains one of their most popular dishes at wedding banquets.

“Most of the couples’ parents consider this a premium dish and without it, would lose face,” said Ruth So at the Mandarin Oriental.

Environmental and international conservation groups maintain between 40 million and 70 million sharks are killed for their fins each year.

To feed a wedding banquet of 300 guests, more than 300 sharks have to be killed, marine conservationist Michael Aw said in the report.

“We must continue to educate the younger generation and make them see that sharks are guardians of the sea that ensure a balance in the food chain,” he said.

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