Shark fin soup ban gains traction in Asia

A swell of opposition against shark fin soup -- a traditional but increasingly controversial Chinese dish -- has gained backing from the luxury Shangri-La hotel chain just days before the Lunar New Year, underscoring global efforts to stop hunting and trading of the endangered fish.

Shangri-La Asia said it would ban shark fin from all of its 72 hotels, most of which are in Asia.

About 95 percent of all shark fin is consumed within China, according to marine conservation group WildAid.

The ban is the largest among a spate of similar moves across Asia. In Singapore this month, supermarket chains FairPrice and Carrefour said they would halt the sale of shark fin in outlets in the city-state, which has a majority-Chinese population. ColdStorage, another chain with several outlets in Singapore, banned it from its stores there last year.

Shark fin, which can cost up to $400 a pound in Hong Kong, is traditionally served as a soup and is seen as a luxurious status symbol in Chinese culture, revered for its supposed powers to enhance sexual potency and skin quality.

But environmental and animal-rights groups have long opposed the harvest of fins, which they say has severely depleted the shark population. According to WildAid, fins from more than 70 million sharks are used each year for soup.

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