With more hotels opting for sustainable fish, editor of Caterer Middle East Charlie Lyon's dinner companions will be able to eat in peace With more hotels opting for sustainable fish, editor of Caterer Middle East Charlie Lyon's dinner companions will be able to eat in peace

I wasn’t surprised when a colleague, new to Dubai from the UK, plumped for the exotic-sounding hamour on the menu of a restaurant we were visiting recently. I squirmed and told my conscience to pipe down, before blurting out facts about dwindling resources and unsustainable fishing, boring myself as well as him as I blathered on.

So Shangri-La’s new Sustainable Seafood Policy comes as welcome relief – somewhere to dine where the menu can act as ethical police, and I can let colleagues eat in peace.

The new policy includes the ban of shark fin in all its operated restaurants, a cease of shark fin orders in all new banqueting requests, as well as a commitment to phasing out bluefin tuna and Chilean sea bass in all its operated restaurants within the year.

Great news, but I wonder why it took so long? Back in 2008, Shangri-La Abu Dhabi took shark fin soup off its menus following a decree limiting shark hunting in Emirates waters, and the group announced it was reviewing the removal of the soup from its other hotels.

Now, nearly four years on, they’ve finally decided to act. It’s inspiring that such a prominent Asian brand is implementing corporate responsibility policies, but why does it have to wait for customer demand and culinary and cultural preferences to change first?

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After Yao Ming, Chinese basketball star and WildAid international ambassador, spoke out against shark fin soup, could serving it have finally become bad for business? Large hotel groups and restaurant chains should be leading consumer education and changing habits, not waiting for consumers’ habits to change first.

 

Charlie Lyon

Caterer Middle East editor

charlie.lyon@itp.com