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A Change Of Mindset – The State Of The 'Auspicious' Soup

Jun 01, 2018

The opportunity to attend wedding banquets is one that many of us cherish for we celebrate a milestone of the newlyweds, who are often either our siblings, relatives or close friends. For those of us who have oftentimes been on the guest list of a Chinese wedding banquet, the second dish on the menu, more often than not, would be the perennial 'Shark's Fin Soup'. For many generations, it has been considered a delicacy, sometimes known as 'the auspicious soup', and is a symbol of luxury, hence its immense popularity during special occasions, in particular weddings.

Great white
Photo by Cat Holloway, courtesy of WWF-Malaysia

In recent years however, we have seen more environmentally-inclined couples eschew this dish altogether, and indeed, some hotels and restaurants have even declared their menus to be shark’s fin free. The trend is encouraging but more needs to be done in such shark protection conservation efforts.

Caught
Photo by Brian J Skerry, National Geographic Stock, courtesy of WWF-Malaysia

Some facts to contemplate* :

  • Malaysia is the 4th largest importer of shark's fin from 2000 to 2011.
  • An estimated 84% of imported shark's fin is consumed domestically.
  • Shark's fin soup consumers are typically of Chinese ethnicity, with the majority living in the Klang Valley.
  • The consumption of shark’s fin is strongly tied to celebrations, in particular weddings.
  • Whilst 57% believe it would be acceptable to replace Shark's Fin Soup with other alternatives, 43% felt the sense of tradition outweighs environmental concerns.
     

What is not seen but needs to be seen
Photo by Jeff Rotman, Nature Picture Library, courtesy of WWF-Malaysia

A change of mindset is necessary, and perhaps these factors would encourage you to skip the dish :

  • Sharks are endangered.
  • The demand for fins is currently the main driver of unsustainable fishing for sharks globally.
  • Ending the consumption does not instantaneously reverse the problem. Ending consumption is the first step as it cuts demand.
  • Sharks are an umbrella species; a keystone species that plays an important ecological role in the marine ecosystem. They keep population of fish stock in check and healthy, losing them will disrupt the balance of the food chain.
  • Some of the measures suggested to better manage and protect sharks would also bring protection for other species.
     

Endangered
Photo by David Fleetham, Nature Picture Library, courtesy of WWF-Malaysia

Indeed, consumption of shark's fin soup is on the decline but more can be done certainly. The decline can be attributed to shark protection gaining more public concern, environmental concerns and change in dining culture, and it is the latter that we, as soon-to-be-weds as well as practitioners in the wedding industry can cultivate.

* Provided by WWF-Malaysia.

 

Tip : The more we learn, the more we appreciate the conservation efforts undertaken. Do visit WWF-Malaysia.