Restaurant follows trend, removes controversial shark fin soup

Shark fin soup is off the menu at a leading hotels after a decree limiting shark hunting in Emirates waters.

The government banned last week the practice of "finning" sharks, the process used to harvest the prime ingredient in shark fin soup.
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ABU DHABI // Shark fin soup is off the menu at one of Abu Dhabi's leading hotels after a decree limiting shark hunting in Emirates waters. The Shangri-La hotel said the Dh260 (US$71) soup was being removed "with immediate effect". The hotel had offered four varieties before the decision. The Asian delicacy has been the target of conservationists for years. They say that hunting sharks solely for their dorsal fins - the soup's main ingredient - is wasteful and inhumane. "Finning" involves removing the fin and throwing the rest of the fish back into the sea, which invariably results in its death.

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Environment and Water banned the practice, following the lead of other countries including the EU and US. A spokesman for the Shangri-La group said it was reviewing the removal of the soup from its other restaurants. "Shark fin remains on some hotel menus due to customer demand, according to their culinary and cultural preferences," he said. "Shangri-La is reviewing this subject and expects to develop guidelines for all hotels shortly."

Earlier this month, the Hakkasan in London, a Chinese restaurant, removed its shark fin soup ? also costing about Dh260 ? after a campaign by environmentalists. Shark finning is helping push several species towards extinction, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Populations of tiger and bull sharks have fallen by 90 per cent in the past few decades and millions of sharks are killed each year

Ibrahim al Zu'ubi, an adviser to the Emirates Diving Association, said he welcomed the Government's restrictions on hunting sharks. "The Gulf waters are amazing as breeding and nursing grounds for sharks," he said. "The minister was kind enough to issue a decree to regulate shark fishing... we can refer to a government law now. "The challenge now will be to implement the decree. " The Emirates Wildlife Society-WWF, which also welcomed the restrictions, is hoping to conduct a full assessment of shark populations and shark fishing in the UAE. There are thought to be about dozens of species of sharks in the UAE.