You are here: Home » International » News » Others
Business Standard

Hong Kong activists urge restaurants to remove shark fin soup from menus

Hong Kong is world's top shark fin trader, accounting for half of global shark fin trade annually

Oiwan Lam | Global Voices 

Representative image of shark
Representative image of shark

Dozens of activists protested on 10 June outside the flagship of Maxim's Group in against the selling of fin soup in its restaurants’ menus.

The protesters, a number of whom were children, wore finless costumes splattered with red paint and chanted, “When the buying stops, the killing can too”. Photos of their demonstration were shared on Twitter.

is the world’s center in fin trade, accounting for about half of the global fin trade every year. The demand for fin soup at Chinese banquets is behind the finning of 73 million of sharks every year. Currently around a quarter of the world's and ray species are threatened with extinction.

While a in 2015 indicated that 94 percent of the respondents did not want to consume the threatened species, local restaurants have refused to take the luxurious dish off their menus. In most cases, consumers are compelled to choose the restaurants’ set menus for their wedding or festival banquets, which usually include shark fin soup. As indicated in the Hong Kong Shark Foundation’s survey, which covered 375 Chinese restaurants in the city, 98 percent had fin soup on their 2016 Lunar New Year menus.

Maxim is one of the largest groups in and operates more than 980 restaurant outlets in Hong Kong, China, Vietnam and Cambodia. The majority of its high-end Chinese restaurants in are serving fin soup.

A petition demanding the group to stop selling fin soup explained the rationale behind the protest:

The company has been resisting calls to drop fin soup from their set menus, ignoring the will of many good people who are against this cruel and unsustainable tradition.
Maxim's claim they only serve fin soup made from blue sharks, but according to recent scientific evidence, blue populations around the world are being wiped out by greedy overfishing.
Is Maxim's going to wait until blue sharks go extinct before it admits that there is a problem?
Maxim's has a firm responsibility to end this practice to save sharks and the marine environment by immediately removing fin from all its menus, especially its set menus. Just as consumers have a responsibility to stop eating fin, groups like Maxim's also have an equal responsibility to stop selling it.

WildAid Hong Kong, the animal right organization behind the anti-fin protests, also alleged that it is easy to order endangered species, like whale shark, basking and silky — which are listed on Appendix II of the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) — in restaurants “upon request”.

is a signatory to the CITES and according to the treaty, endangered species listed on Appendix II “must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival”.

The group pointed out in their Facebook page:

Despite claims by Maxim's management that it serves only blue sharks in its restaurants, the undercover footage demonstrates that the chain privately offers other more ‘exotic’ species. These are usually made available by staff acting autonomously of management to please their more demanding clientèle. Laxity and poor transparency is endemic across Hong Kong's Chinese industry, and supply chain secrecy is a problem in Hong Kong's notoriously crime-riddled fin trade.

This article, written by Oiwan Lam, was published on Global Voices on June 17, 2017.