Asia

Singapore casino bans shark fin

A worker cuts the shark fin at Muncar Port on 25 May, 2014 in Banyuwangi, Indonesia Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Conservation groups argue that finning live sharks is painful and inhumane

Singapore's Marina Bay Sands casino has banned shark fin, the latest in a series of boycotts in Asia.

The casino said shark-fin dishes would no longer be offered at official events or served at its restaurants.

Singapore is the world's second largest shark-fin trading territory after Hong Kong.

Campaigners welcomed the casino's ban, but warned that the trade in shark fin is now relocating to Indonesia, which export about 640,000 tonnes a year.

Jakarta said it was tightening regulations for the fishing of sharks and manta rays, which are considered endangered.

Hong Kong announced in September that it would stop serving shark fin at official functions and would also encourage government-funded bodies to do the same.

China followed suit, banning shark fin at official functions as part of a wide-ranging crackdown on excessive spending by government officials.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A worker in Indonesia handles a dead shark at a fishing port
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Chinese celebrities such as basketball star Yao Ming have spoken out against the shark fin trade
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Although it is prized for its use in soup, shark fin is tasteless
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Pressure from animal rights activists has helped to push shark fin boycotts around Asia

Although tasteless, shark fin is prized in soup and is often seen by many Asians as a status symbol.

It is most commonly served at Chinese wedding dinners.

The ban in Singapore follows other boycotts from large supermarkets and major hotels.

Anti-shark-fin campaigns have also prompted some five-star hotels in Hong Kong to remove shark fin from their menus, as well as from flagship airline Cathay Pacific.

Conservation groups hailed the latest move.

"Sharks are a crucial part of marine ecosystems and their populations have a direct impact on fish stocks," said Elaine Tan, Chief Executive Officer of the World Wildlife Fund Singapore.

"Marina Bay Sands is showing foresight and leadership and is providing a great example that the longevity and ongoing success of business is closely tied to safeguarding the biodiversity of our planet."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Indonesia has become one of the biggest exporters of shark fins in the world
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Indonesian government is seeking to restrict shark fishing in a way that will not hurt fishermen

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