Top Sabah hotels have begun taking the popular shark fin soup off their menu well ahead of the state government plan to ban harvesting of sharks in its waters.
However, restaurant owners and fishermen are voicing concern over the move.
Sabah Hotel Association president Christopher Chan said they were ready to take it off the menu if the ban was enforced.
“Just because there is no shark fin dish, it does not mean that we will go out of business.
“The chefs will just have to be more creative,” said Chan, in support of the proposed ban.
The Sabah Cabinet had agreed to ban shark fin harvesting with state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun stating that they hoped to implement it by year’s end.
Hoteliers in the east coast of Sabah noted there was no problem with the ban of shark fin as previously much sought after delicacies - such as bear’s paw and rhino’s horns - were no longer remembered by consumers after they disappeared from the menu.
“I don’t think the shark fin soup ban will in any way affect our business as we have many other delicacies to promote,” said Tawau’s Belmont Marco Polo general manager Shaik Mohamad Shah, adding that many hotels had already removed it from their menu.
A restaurant owner Thomas Lau said that imposing the ban without efficient enforcement would be meaningless.
“A good example is the effectiveness of the ban on sales of turtle eggs.
“As long as there is a demand for these eggs, the supply will be there,” he said, referring to the easy availability of turtle eggs in Sandakan.
Sandakan Fishermen Association chairman Phua Peh Chee questioned the practicality of the ban in terms of fishing equipment to avoid snaring sharks, as well as how it would encourage the smuggling of fresh fins across the border.