Just five per cent of wedding guests say they like eating shark fin soup at banquets. The majority of guests consume it only because it is being served, a survey has found.

The Hong Kong Shark Foundation estimated that shark fin is served to 323,783 tables at 11,783 wedding banquets annually, with an average of 32 shark fin wedding banquets held each day.

Photo: Hong Kong Shark Foundation.

The survey was conducted by students from City University, and 20 volunteers, who interviewed 411 guests at 30 wedding banquets. The results showed that 72 per cent of respondents never ate shark fin except at such banquets, and 83 per cent said the last time they ate shark fin was at a traditional Chinese restaurant.

The majority of guests said that they it, whilst over half of them said the reason was to “avoid food waste” and “show respect for their host.”

In the survey, 75 per cent of the respondents remained “neutral” while 20 per cent says they “dislike/highly dislike” shark fin. 94 per cent said they were not willing to express their views on shark fin soup to their hosts.

Photo: Hong Kong Shark Foundation.

Prentice Koo, head of campaigns at the Foundation, said wedding hosts offering shark fin at a banquet put their guests “in a dilemma between wasting food or standing by their values,” whilst not realising that most guests would rather not eat it.

“Chinese restaurant’s default menu and the wedding couple’s decisions to serve shark fin are contributing to the decline in shark populations,” he said. “[T]he amount of shark fin consumed in Hong Kong Chinese restaurants is still way too high.”

“When 70% of the hotel chains have committed to no shark fin, Chinese restaurants must change their business model in order to share the responsibility for shark conservation.” Koo said.

To reduce the amount, the foundation said it is hoping to meet with popular Chinese restaurant groups in Hong Kong, urging them to incentivise customers to choose non-shark fin options.

The NGO also said it will host an event to choose couples that say no to shark fin in their Chinese restaurant wedding banquet and offer them two free air tickets.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.